US court sentenced Russian diplomat to imprisonment for money laundering
Former United Nations official Vladimir Kuznetsov has been sentenced in the U.S. to four years and three months in prison for money laundering. Kuznetsov was convicted of laundering $ 300,000 from firms seeking UN contracts.
He`s been on home arrest since March and will remain free until October 22. The 49-year-old is preparing an appeal.
"I don`t consider myself guilty. We`ll file an appeal in 10 days. I`m not going to give up," said Vladimir Kuznetsov, former Chairman of the UN Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions.
Vladimir Kuznetsov was once the highest ranking Russian diplomat at the United Nations, but now faces 51 months in prison.
Prosecutors say Mr Kuznetsov laundered over $US 300,000 in criminal proceeds obtained by another UN worker, Aleksander Yakovlev. He`s a former Procurement Officer at the UN.
Sentenced at a U.S. district court on Friday, Mr Kuznetsov was ordered to begin serving his jail time on October 22. And upon his release, he is to pay a fine of more than $US 73,000.
The Russian Consulate General in New York, Sergey Garmonin, says he will assist Mr Kuznetsov in fighting what he calls a false verdict.
"I think the sentence is unfair. It seemed to us there was a determination to find him guilty. The entire case is built on the testimony of just one witness, while other witnesses were ignored," Sergey Garmonin notes.
That one witness was Aleksander Yakovlev who testified against Mr Kuznetsov.
Mr Yakovlev pleaded guilty in 2005 to soliciting $US 1 million in bribes, in addition to wire fraud and money laundering.
Mr Kuznetsov is a career diplomat. He`s worked at both the Soviet Union and Russian missions before taking on the higher role at the UN. He`s clocked up more than 20 years of international work - a career some Russian officials have promised to save from being tarnished.
Addressing the judge at the U.S. district court in lower Manhattan, Mr Kuznetsov said the United Nations is a part of his life. He said he spent more time at the international organization than he did with his own family. And he said that decision is something he will always regret.