Ex-EBRD director charged with attempted bribery

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Associated Press

Posted on January 15, 2013 at 3:34 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 15 at 3:36 AM

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian authorities on Tuesday charged a former Russia director at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development with conspiracy to take a $1.4 million bribe.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that Yelena Kotova and a Russian banker combined their "powers as well as links in the business community" to negotiate the bribe from an unnamed Canadian oil and gas company in exchange for vetting a $95 million loan.

The London-based EBRD was set up at the end of the Cold War to foster economic development in the impoverished Eastern Europe and the crumbling Soviet Union. It invested nearly 3 billion euros in Russia in 2011 and a combined 21 billion euros in the past 20 year.

Kotova sat on the EBRD's board of directors as Russia's representative between 2005 and 2010 when she was dismissed to allow the investigation to proceed. The bank then asked authorities in Russia and the UK to lift her immunity and that of three other EBRD officials.

The EBRD on Tuesday said it had no further comment on the case.

According to Kotova's personal website, she ditched her banking career for creative writing. Kotova, who has published three novels since her retirement in 2011, describes herself as a "writer" and "feature columnist" in the profile on her website.

Kotova has not replied to emails seeking comment. The former EBRD director in a 2011 interview described the probe into her work as a smear campaign and said that she fell victim to infighting at the bank.

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