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Russian Jewish Banker Held on Suspicion of Embezzlement

The head of a large Russian bank who is also a prominent member of the country’s Jewish community has been detained in Moscow on suspicion of embezzling more than $120 million.

Arkady Angelevich, who heads Moscow’s Montazhspetsbank and is a member of the presidium of the Russian Jewish Congress, has been held in prison since last week.

Under Russian law, Angelevich can be held for 30 days without being formally charged.

The Association of Russian Banks called earlier this week for Angelevich’s release, calling the preliminary charges brought against him “unjustified.”

The association sent a letter to the interior minister condemning Angelevich’s detention.

Among the letter’s signatories were members of the RJC presidium as well as several leading bankers.

The RJC has not formally commented on the banker’s detention, but may do so after a meeting of the presidium scheduled in the coming days.

During a search of Angelevich’s apartment, officials with the Interior Ministry allegedly found incriminating documents, $55,000 in cash and $1 million worth of jewels.

Some analysts are saying that the banker’s detention was part of President Boris Yeltsin’s recently launched campaign against corruption.

Angelevich was arrested on the way to the airport, where he was planning to leave for Israel, according to news reports.

But a source close to Angelevich said he was detained as he was on his way to a routine business meeting.

The Montazhspetsbank is among several banks authorized to handle Russian federal funds.

One banking analyst was quoted anonymously as saying that Angelevich’s bank was “in fierce competition” with Moscow City Hall and the Bank of Moscow.

“Someone helped put Angelevich in the situation he is in now,” the source said.

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