A deputy Russian finance minister who is a prominent authority on international financial relations was charged Friday with large-scale fraud and trying to embezzle millions in state funds, his lawyer said.
The arrest of Sergei Storchak shocked many of the country's top bankers and prompted media speculation that the investigation has a political element amid uncertainty about President Vladimir Putin's future.
Storchak is charged with trying to embezzle $43 million in government money, his lawyer, Igor Pastukhov, said. Pastukhov said Storchak had pleaded innocent and was cooperating with investigators.
"He absolutely does not admit his guilt. It's considered - and we fully support this - that his actions were fully in line with his official duties, resolving those tasks ... that were in the interest of the state," Pastukhov said in televised comments.