Former Russian nuclear energy minister arrested by Swiss authorities on the behalf of the US

Thursday, May 5, 2005

Former Russian nuclear energy minister Yevgeny Adamov was arrested on Monday by Swiss authorities. The arrest came at the request of U.S. officials who claim he stole more than nine million dollars allocated by Washington to help improve Russian nuclear safety.

The Ministry of Justice in Switzerland said Adamov will be extradited to the US. The warrant allowing this states that he is charged with diverting money from the U.S. Department of Energy to several companies he controls.

Adamov's lead lawyer said he will fight the extradition warrant and called the accusations "baseless". Adamov, who has on a number of occasions been investigated for his financial dealing by the U.S. and Russia alike, said he was being punished for his help in building a nuclear plant in Iran.

The U.S. now has 60 days to present a formal request, after which a Swiss court will make a ruling. Swiss officials said it is common for this process to take several months.

Adamov's U.S. lawyer, Larry Breur, said Adamov admitted to depositing the money into a personal account, but then he used that account to dispense the money to Russian agencies and nuclear scientists. Breur said the process was common in Russia to avoid hypertaxation.

Yevgeny Adamov was a minister in Boris Yeltsin's government, but was removed from power by Vladimir Putin in an effort to remove corruption. Adamov was in Bern attempting to unblock bank accounts belonging to his daughter.