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Swiss arrest Russian ex-atomic energy minister

Swiss police have arrested former Russian nuclear energy minister Yevgeny Adamov on suspicion of involvement in a million dollar fraud case.

This content was published on May 4, 2005 - 14:13

The Justice Ministry said on Wednesday that the arrest had been made at the request of the United States, which is demanding Adamov's extradition - a move which the ex-minister is resisting.

Justice ministry spokesman Folco Galli said that Adamov was arrested during a visit to the Swiss capital, Bern, two days ago.

Galli gave no reason why Adamov was in Bern, but the New York Times reported that he was in Switzerland to negotiate with Swiss officials about several blocked bank accounts belonging to his daughter.

Officials said on Wednesday that Adamov had refused to accept quick extradition to the US.

This means that the US government has 40 days to file a formal extradition request, starting a process that could take many months before a final decision is reached on sending Adamov to the US.

US investigation

Earlier, the US embassy in Bern confirmed that the US government had submitted a provisional extradition request and was ready to follow this up with a formal demand.

"There has been a long-term FBI and [treasury department] Internal Revenue Service investigation into Adamov," said spokesman Dan Wendell.

"He was charged by a criminal complaint in the US western district court of Pennsylvania. The charges are transportation of stolen money, securities, money-laundering and conspiracy," he told swissinfo.

The US has accused Adamov of diverting up to $9 million (SFr11 million) which the US Energy Department gave Russia to help improve security at its nuclear facilities.

The warrant states that the former minister is suspected of investing the money in various projects and diverting it to US firms that he controls.

Wendell added that the US was very grateful to the Swiss authorities for their help in the affair.

Business dealings

Russia’s foreign ministry said its consular officials in Bern were trying to meet Adamov and to ascertain the exact charges levelled against him.

"As far as we are aware, Adamov is facing changes in connection with his commercial activities in the early 1990s prior to his appointment as Russian atomic energy ministry," spokesman Alexander Yakovenko told the Russian Interfax news agency.

Adamov was minister under Boris Yeltsin but was ousted by Vladimir Putin, who came to power in 2000, following an investigation into Adamov’s ties to the Russian business community.

Adamov’s term as nuclear energy minister was marked by his resolve to push forward with the construction of a nuclear reactor in Iran which Washington says Tehran could use to acquire nuclear weapons. Both Iran and Russia have denied this.

As minister, Adamov also campaigned to amend Russian legislation to allow the importation of spent nuclear fuel to storage facilities in Siberia and elsewhere, a measure long opposed by Russian liberal and environmental groups.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Yevgeny Adamov was appointed Boris Yeltsin's Atomic Energy Minister in 1998.

He was ousted from the post in 2001 after President Vladimir Putin came to power.

A parliamentary investigation accused him of corruption.

Later Adamov, a nuclear physicist, joined the Dollezhal Institute, which designed Russia's Chernobyl-type reactors.

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