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Wednesday, September 8, 1999 Published at 22:00 GMT 23:00 UK

World: Europe

I'm not guilty - Yeltsin

President Yeltsin's family stands accused of corruption

Boris Yeltsin has discussed the money laundering and corruption allegations levelled against himself and his government with President Clinton.

In a telephone conversation, the Russian president said he was not guilty and promised that a team of Russian detectives would go to the US on Monday to investigate alleged money laundering through the Bank of New York.

[ image: President Clinton:'Deal with allegations on merit']
President Clinton:'Deal with allegations on merit'
Investigators in New York believe that more than $10bn in funds from Russia was illegally deposited in the Bank of New York, and some of it may have come from the $20bn that the International Monetary Fund has paid to Russia since 1992 to help stabilise the economy.

No-one has been charged with any crime, but correspondents describe the case as potentially one of the biggest money laundering affairs ever uncovered in the United States.

'Politically motivated'

The affair coincides with corruption allegations against President Yeltsin himself.

Swiss investigators say that up to $15m worth of bribes were made available to the Russian leader, his family and senior Kremlin officials by a construction company competing for Kremlin contracts.

The Kremlin has rejected the allegations, claiming the story - which surfaced in the Washington Post - was politically motivated.

[ image: IMF cash may have been laundered]
IMF cash may have been laundered
Mr Yeltsin said the same of the money laundering scandal in his telephone conversation with President Clinton.

According to US National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, when asked whether he or any members of his family were involved in the affair, Mr Yeltsin dismissed the allegations as "politically motivated",

Mr Clinton was quoted as saying: "It's very important to deal with these (allegations) on the merits and co-operate."

Renovating the Kremlin

[ image: Millions of dollars have allegedly been accepted by the Yeltsins]
Millions of dollars have allegedly been accepted by the Yeltsins
Earlier this week, the Russian Prosecutor General, Yuri Skuratov, suggested Mr Yeltsin and his family should be questioned about kickbacks they allegedly received from Swiss construction firm Mabetex bidding for a large renovation contract for the Kremlin.

Mabetex has denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Skuratov was suspended by President Yeltsin in March.

While reports of the corruption case emerged a year ago, this was the first time that the Yeltsins have been directly linked to it, and a precise amount has been mentioned.

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