Russian bank staff facing probe
The diplomatic immunity of four Russian officials working at an international bank has been removed as police investigate allegations of criminal activity, it has emerged.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said in a statement: "The EBRD has agreed to a request from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and from the Russian authorities to lift the immunity of four officials assigned to the EBRD by the Russian government.
"The purpose of lifting the immunity is to facilitate investigations by both UK police and by Russian authorities into alleged criminal activities.
"The officials either work or have worked at the EBRD in their capacity as representatives of the Russian government, a shareholder of the EBRD and one of its countries of operations."
The EBRD said it had already launched an internal investigation. The findings have been shared with the Russian authorities, in accordance with the bank's code of conduct, and will be made available to British police.
The statement continued: "The EBRD is working very closely on this matter with both the UK police and with the Russian authorities."
The EBRD did not name those involved but Russia's Economic Development Ministry said one of the officials was Yelena Kotova, who was removed from her position on the board of directors following the bank's internal inquiry.
The ministry did not name the other three employees but said Russia's prosecutor general's office has ordered a probe into their activities. The Foreign Office said it had been asked by City of London Police to seek waivers of immunity for the officials.
A spokeswoman said: "When requested to do so by the police, the FCO will seek waivers of immunity for individuals from foreign diplomatic missions or international organisations to allow the police to proceed with investigations. The officials hold immunity under the terms of the EBRD's Headquarters Agreement with the UK. The City of London Police wish to investigate alleged criminal activity by a number of officials. We cannot provide more detail."
The EBRD is owned by 61 countries and partly funded by the US and European Union. It uses investments to help develop market economies in formerly communist countries of eastern Europe and central Asia. All of the EBRD's owner countries have representatives on its board of directors.