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Russian UN official indicted in money laundering scheme

NEW YORK -- A Russian diplomat who chairs the United Nations' powerful budget oversight committee was indicted yesterday on charges of conspiring with a UN procurement officer to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars from foreign companies seeking contracts with the world body.

Vladimir Kuznetsov, 48, was the second Russian official at the UN to be arrested by the FBI for alleged money laundering in recent weeks. He pleaded not guilty and was held on $1.5 million bail.

His lawyer, Marion Seltzer, said it was unlikely he could arrange bail in the next week. If he makes bail, he will be required to submit to home detention with electronic monitoring.

While the indictment did not identify the procurement officer, UN deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said the charges against Kuznetsov stem from an internal UN investigation of Alexander Yakovlev, a Russian who worked in the UN procurement office.

The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering against Kuznetsov was in a grand jury indictment unsealed yesterday in US District Court in Manhattan, where the Russian awaited arraignment. Okabe said Kuznetsov had not been under UN investigation.

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