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By The Associated Press
The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Russian diamond monopoly criminal case opened


Last updated 5/22/2005 at Noon

Prosecutors have opened a criminal case into alleged misappropriation of property at the Russian state diamond monopoly Alrosa, officials said May 14.

The case, opened May 13, concerns the misappropriation of property worth more than 153 million rubles (US$5.8 million), said Sergei Marchenko, a spokesman for the Moscow prosecutor's office.

He said the investigation would include a full probe into the finances and business activities of Alrosa. The Interfax news agency quoted a source close to the inquiry as saying that a number of company officials would be questioned.

Alrosa, whose mining activities are based in the remote Siberian region of Yakutia, is the world's second-largest rough diamond producer after De Beers, an Anglo-South African concern. It is on a Kremlin list of 1,063 enterprises that the state considers strategically vital.

The company insisted it maintained the highest financial standards, saying its activities were under the "constant supervision of licensed bodies," including international auditors.

In a statement May 14, Alrosa noted that prosecutors had not contacted it directly yet but promised to offer its full cooperation to enable "an objective investigation."


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