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Report: Former FCRB Bank executive detained in embezzlement case

Dmitry Merkulov, the former vice president of FCRB Bank LLC, was arrested on accusations of embezzling over 2 billion Russian rubles from the lender, which lost its license in 2016, Kommersant reported Jan. 20.

Merkulov reportedly signed two contracts, worth 75 million rubles and 400 million rubles, for the sale of bank assets worth over 2 billion rubles. Funds from the sale were supposed to plug a hole in the bank but were never paid in.

The deals were carried out a few days before the lender, formerly First Czech-Russian Bank, was placed into provisional administration.

Merkulov argues that the deals were prepared without his participation since he held the vice president post for just two weeks. The newspaper also noted that there is some evidence that Merkulov was assured of the legality of the transactions by the lender's beneficiary shareholder and management board head, Roman Popov, and deputy head Olga Arsenteva.

Prior to moving to FCRB Bank, Merkulov served as vice president at Taurus Bank, and Russian law enforcement authorities also have questions regarding his work there. Taurus lost its license in 2015, after which an investigation was launched regarding the embezzlement of funds.

First Czech-Russian Bank was famous for ties with the Iranian central bank and for granting a €9 million loan to France's National Front party in 2014, Kommersant noted. According to the Russian Deposit Insurance Agency, the bank owed over 25 billion rubles to its creditors as of Dec. 1, 2016.

As of Jan. 19, US$1 was equivalent to 59.90 Russian rubles.