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Tuesday, 4 February, 2003, 16:34 GMT
Russian pyramid tycoon charged
MMM
The Russian pyramid scheme MMM issued its own"bonds"
The founder of a multi-million-dollar pyramid investment scheme in Russia has been charged with fraud, nine years after the scheme collapsed.

Sergei Mavrodi was head of the MMM investment fund, which allegedly tricked people into investing their life savings by promising them huge returns.

But the whole scheme was being funded only by new investors, analysts say, and eventually the pyramid collapsed.

The total losses amounted to an estimated $100m, the Russian news agency Interfax reported.

Money trail

Mr Mavrodi was arrested in Moscow on Friday.

The Russian Interior Ministry said investigators were trying to track down his finances, real estate interests and other assets.

Officials said savers who lost money in the scheme would be able to apply for compensation.

Mr Mavrodi faced tax evasion charges in 1994 but after being elected to the Russian parliament that year, gained parliamentary immunity from prosecution.

This was later revoked and he left the country.

It is not clear when - or why - he returned to Russia.

See also:

28 Dec 02 | Country profiles
22 Jun 01 | Business
01 May 01 | Business
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