Swiss Link Yeltsin to Corruption
LUGANO, Switzerland (AP) _ A Swiss bank said Thursday it guaranteed credit cards for Boris Yeltsin and his daughters on instructions from a company that has been implicated in a probe of alleged Kremlin bribery.
It was the first official confirmation linking the Russian president with the corruption investigation.
The Banca del Gottardo said it provided the guarantees on orders from Mabetex, a Lugano-based construction company implicated in the probe, said Marco Streun of the bank’s legal department.
Streun said he didn’t know whether any credit cards were ever issued to Yeltsin and his daughters, Tatyana Dyachenko and Yelena Okulova, during the two months the guarantee was in effect.
He said guarantees are usually sought so that cards can be provided to foreigners who lack a Swiss bank account or a Swiss-based employer who can verify income information.
The guarantee, which would come into effect if any credit card purchases went unpaid, was never invoked, Streun told The Associated Press.
He stressed that the Banca del Gottardo itself did not issue any credit cards for Yeltsin or his family.
The Kremlin has said that Yeltsin and his family have not broken any laws, and Mabetex chief executive Behgjet Pacolli has denied paying any bribes to Russian officials.
A spokeswoman for Yeltsin’s office in Moscow reiterated Thursday that the president has never had any foreign bank accounts or other assets abroad. She refused any immediate comment on Streun’s statement.
Swiss investigators are helping Russian prosecutors probe allegations that the Russian president and his family received kickbacks from Mabetex.
Russia’s suspended prosecutor, Yuri Skuratov, has said that Yeltsin and his daughters are named in documents provided by Swiss prosecutors. The documents include allegations that the three used credit cards provided by Mabetex, with the company paying the bills.