GENEVA (AP)- Former Kremlin property manager Pavel Borodin stayed silent during questioning by Swiss authorities Thursday over his alleged involvement in the laundering of some dlrs 30 million in kickbacks.
"Pavel Borodin exercised his constitutional right to remain silent," defense lawyer Robert Assael told reporters following Borodin's four-hour interrogation by Geneva magistrate Daniel Devaud.
Borodin refused to comment on the questioning, simply telling reporters, "I like Geneva very much."
Devaud is leading the investigation into allegations that the former top official received around dlrs 30 million from two Swiss construction companies, Mercata and Mabetex, which had lucrative contracts to renovate Kremlin buildings. Two bank employees and a lawyer charged in the case were reportedly present during the interrogation.
Borodin has consistently claimed he is innocent of all charges.
"My client came here. He has done what he undertook to do," said defense lawyer Dominique Poncet. "But he considers that, having committed no crime, he has no need to justify himself."
Borodin is due to be questioned again in June, his lawyers said.
Borodin, 54, was arrested on a Swiss warrant Jan. 17 at New York's Kennedy Airport while traveling to Washington to celebrate President Bush's inauguration. After a New York judge denied him bail, he agreed to be flown to Switzerland in April rather than face a lengthy extradition battle from his U.S. prison cell.
After six days in Swiss custody - during which he was hospitalized with chest pains - he was freed on a 5-mllion-franc (dlrs 3 million) bail bond. The Geneva court placed no restrictions on his movements once the bond had been paid, and he returned to Russia immediately.
But one condition of bail was that Borodin must be present when required by Swiss authorities.
The former close aide to ex-President Boris Yeltsin was initially charged with money laundering and membership of a criminal organization.
The charges stemmed from accusations he received around dlrs 30 million from two Swiss construction companies, Mercata and Mabetex, that had lucrative contracts to renovate Kremlin buildings.
The funds allegedly were laundered in Switzerland by a ring of Borodin family members and associates.
But the Geneva court in April threw out the criminal organization charge, saying investigators had failed to prove there had been a systematic conspiracy to launder the money in Switzerland.
The court also said the charge of money laundering would be difficult to prove because Russia had not provided evidence that the money was obtained through illegal activity. Russian authorities dropped their own case against Borodin in December.
Borodin was removed from his Kremlin post by President Vladimir Putin in 1999. He now holds a largely ceremonial office of secretary of the Russia-Belarus union.