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Last Updated: Friday, 25 August 2006, 20:11 GMT 21:11 UK
Former Ukraine PM is jailed in US
Pavlo Lazarenko
The charges against Lazarenko date back to the mid-1990s
A US court has sentenced a former prime minister of Ukraine to nine years in jail for extortion, money-laundering through American banks and fraud.

Pavlo Lazarenko, 53, was also ordered to pay a $10m (5.29m) fine.

Lazarenko stood accused of large-scale corruption during the chaotic years which followed the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991.

He was convicted of the charges in June 2004 and has been under house arrest in the US ever since.

Several companies and banks based in countries including Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the US were involved in the case against him.

Lazarenko, who was prime minister of Ukraine from 1996 to 1997, fled to America seeking asylum in 1999 but was arrested by immigration authorities for visa irregularities.

Pavlo Lazarenko

US prosecutors later accused him of laundering through American banks $114m (60m), which he allegedly stole while in office in Ukraine.

A jury convicted Lazarenko of 29 counts but 15 counts were dropped.

Most of the allegations of embezzlement of state funds and abuse of office against Lazarenko are related to the fight for gas revenues between rival political and business groupings in Ukraine in the 1990s.

Other charges

In June 2000, a court in Geneva found him guilty in absentia of laundering $6.6m (3.5m) through Swiss banks.

At the same time, Ukrainian prosecutors charged Lazarenko with ordering the 1996 killing of a prominent politician, Yevhen Shcherban, and two failed assassination attempts on high-ranking officials.

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