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Deputy Chief of Russia's Central Bank Slain in Moscow Gun Attack

  • Bill Gasperini

The deputy chairman of Russia's Central Bank has died after being shot several times by unknown gunmen Wednesday. Prosecutors say Andrei Kozlov's killing was likely linked to his efforts to tackle widespread corruption and criminality in Russia's banking system.

Andrei Kozlov was gunned down outside a Moscow sports club, where bank employees were playing football.

His driver, who was also his bodyguard, died at the scene.

Russia's top prosecutor has taken personal charge of the case, which is believed to be linked to the 41-year-old banker's anti-corruption efforts. Kozlov was in charge of an anti-corruption unit working to reduce criminality and money-laundering in the banking sector.

He had revoked the licenses of many commercial banks that were considered unreliable, or that had otherwise engaged in criminal activity.

Kozlov had a reputation for integrity and honesty.

Anatoly Chubais, who has held numerous government positions, and now heads Russia's main electricity company, survived an assassination attempt last year.

In an emotional statement, Chubais called Kozlov an "honest, principled and non-commercial person," whose brazen murder represents a direct challenge to all Russian authorities.

Other members of Russia's commercial sector also expressed shock at the killing.

While not as common as during the chaotic 1990s, killings of bankers and businessmen continue. Most are carried out by hired gunmen, who are often never found. It is even harder to find out who hired them.

Police say there are no suspects at the moment, although some officials suggest the investigation will include people whose banks have been closed at Kozlov's initiative.

Dozens of unsound banks have had their licenses revoked, or were forced to close under the program run by Kozlov, who will also be remembered for establishing a deposit insurance program.

That system helped restore confidence in the banking sector after the 1998 financial collapse that saw millions of people lose their savings when banks defaulted and closed.

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