Austria Extradites Former Russian Culture Official Wanted On Embezzlement Charges.

Austrian authorities have extradited Boris Mazo, a former employee of the Russian Culture Ministry who is suspected in Russia of fraud and embezzlement.

The Russian Prosecutor-General's Office said on March 25 that Mazo is now on his way to Moscow.

"Thanks to a large amount of work organized with the cooperation of our Austrian colleagues, and due to the timely presentation by the Prosecutor-General's Office of the Russian Federation of additional data and materials requested by the Austrian side, it became possible to arrange Mazo's extradition," a statement from the Prosecutor-General's Office said.

Mazo is accused of embezzling 450 million rubles ($5.9 million) from the state budget.

Former Deputy Culture Minister Grigory Pirumov, who was arrested in 2018 and is currently under house arrest in Moscow, is also a suspect in the case.

Investigators say that Mazo, Pirumov and other former officials of the Culture Ministry also laundered up to 800 million rubles ($10.5 million) illegally obtained via fraudulent activities.

Russian investigators say Pirumov, Mazo, and others secured government funds with no intention of using the money designated for construction works for St. Petersburg's Hermitage Museum. Instead, they allegedly transferred the money to their own companies.

Austrian authorities detained Mazo in November at Spain's request.

Spanish investigators say Mazo might have laundered money he stole in Russia through the purchase of an expensive property in Spain's southern resort city of Marbella.

However, the Austrian court decided to extradite Mazo to Russia, not Spain.

In 2017, Mazo and Pirumov were convicted in Moscow of embezzling 164 million rubles ($2.1 million), but the judge ruled that the time spent by the two men in pretrial detention was a sufficient punishment.

Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax

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