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The Russian Prosecutor General's office has confirmed that they have dropped
The Russian Prosecutor General's office has confirmed that they have dropped a new criminal probe against Sergei Storchak, a deputy Russian finance minister.

"The resolution to initiate a criminal case has been dropped as ungrounded," a spokesman said.

Russia's Investigation Committee said on Tuesday a new probe had been launched against Storchak, accused of attempting to embezzle $43 million. According to the Investigative Committee, the new probe was based on abuse of office charges during debt settlement talks between the former Soviet Union to Kuwait. The talks were held in Moscow on January 27-28, 2005.

Under the agreement, which was signed in May 2006, Russia was set to pay $600 million of the debt in goods, and the remaining $1 billion in a cash payment.

A key figure in Russia's Paris Club debt talks, Storchak was detained in Moscow along with two businessmen on November 15. Russia's Investigation Committee said his arrest was related to the settlement of Soviet-era debts and that the measure was based on prosecutors' concerns that he could destroy evidence or intimidate witnesses. Storchak pleaded not guilty.

The Investigation Committee said earlier the arrest was related to debts to the Sodexim company and that Storchak had been arrested along with Sodexim general director Viktor Zakharov and the president of the Moscow-based Interregional Investment Bank, Vadim Volkov. They face five to ten years in prison.


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