Court Sends Ex-EBRD Official for Psychiatric Assessment

MOSCOW, March 29 (RIA Novosti) – A Moscow court has ordered Yelena Kotova, a former senior Russian representative at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) who has been charged with bribery, to undergo psychiatric assessment, the Interior Ministry said Friday.

Kotova and Igor Lebedev, a former senior manager at Russia’s VTB Bank, were charged in January with conspiring to demand a $1.4-million bribe from representatives of a Canadian oil and gas company in exchange for helping it get a $95-million EBRD loan.

“During the investigation, Kotova presented medical documents that indicate she suffers from a psychiatric illness,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Following a psychiatric examination, a medical commission recommended that she be sent to a mental health clinic for a more thorough examination,” the statement said.

Kotova, fomerly seen as a top Russian candidate for the post of EBRD vice president, has dismissed the accusations of attempted bribery, calling them “politically motivated.” Her lawyer Sergei Mirzoyev has also dismissed the charges as “unfounded” and “politically biased.”

Kotova served on the EBRD board of directors for five years until she was dismissed by Russia’s Economic Development Ministry in December 2010. She is the first board member to lose diplomatic immunity since the London-based EBRD was founded in 1991.

Russian investigators opened a criminal case against Kotova on suspicion of bribery in February 2011. In August, the British authorities allowed Russian investigators to question Kotova as part of the investigation.

The EBRD lifted diplomatic immunity from Kotova and three other officials appointed by Russia’s Economic Development Ministry in order to assist the investigation by the Russian and British authorities. The move came after an EBRD inquiry found Kotova and three of her deputies had breached the bank’s code of ethics.

The EBRD was set up to help the development of market economies in 29 emerging countries from central Europe to central Asia. The bank invested nine billion euros in the region in 2010, including 2.3 billion euros in Russia.

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