UPDATE 1-Russian former EBRD director charged with bribery

Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:40am EST
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* Kotova, ex-VTB banker, suspected of seeking $1.4 mln kickback

* Defence lawyer says case politically motivated

* Defendants face up to seven years jail if convicted

By Douglas Busvine

MOSCOW, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Russia's former executive director at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development was charged with bribery on Tuesday in a case that has raised wider concerns over possible corruption at the multilateral lender.

Yelena Kotova was charged with soliciting $1.4 million from a representative of a Canadian oil company, along with former banker Igor Lebedev, in return for ensuring the approval of a sizable loan.

The charges were filed two years after Kotova was removed as Russia's most senior representative at the EBRD, which was created in 1991 to help countries in eastern Europe make the transition from communism to the market economy.

"The perpetrators planned to receive money in return for working to approve a loan of $95 million to the foreign company," the Russian Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Kotova, who returned to Moscow after leaving the bank, has repeatedly protested her innocence. The 58-year-old ex-banker has since launched a career as a writer, recently publishing her third novel, entitled "Women's Corporation".   Continued...