A jury in New York has found a Russian diplomat guilty of conspiring to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribe money, according to a press release from the United States Attorney of the Southern District of New York.
Vladimir Kuznetsov, 49, (shown above at the time of his arrest) faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on June 25. He has been held under house arrest, his movements checked by a bracelet monitor, since the Russian government secured his release from a detention cell.
Kuznetsov served as chairman of the United Nations' Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions until his arrest in September 2005. He was the highest ranking Russian diplomat at the UN. At the time of his arrest, Russian news agency Pravda insisted that American authorities were using a corruption probe as a means of slandering the UN after its opposition to the invasion of Iraq and of extracting the United States from the international body.
He was conviced of conspiring with Russian UN procurement officer Alexader Yakovlev from 2000 through mid-2005 to hide payments provided by foreign companies seeking to do business with the UN. Yakovlev is believed to have taken over $1 million in bribes during that period. Kuznetsov learned of the scheme and accepted a share of the proceeds rather than report Yakovlev to authorities. Kuznetsov established an off-shore company called Nikal Ltd. in order to hide the money at the Antigua Overseas Bank Limited.
According to the Washington Post, Kuznetsov is the fourth UN-based official implicated in an ongoing investigation into corruption.
Yakovlev pleaded guilty in 2005.
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