MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has met his deputy Sergei Storchak, charged with attempting to embezzle $43 million, for the first time since Storchak’s arrest, his ministry said on Friday.
The Storchak case has inflicted political damage on Kudrin, Russia’s economic policy tsar, as Kremlin factions vie for influence ahead of an election in March for the successor to President Vladimir Putin.
Storchak, Russia’s foreign debt negotiator who also oversaw a $144 billion budget stabilization fund, has been charged in relation to a failed attempt to recover a debt owed by Algeria. He faces up to 10 years in jail if convicted.
Kudrin had offered to vouch personally for Storchak’s proper conduct if released. He said his deputy possessed knowledge vital for the ministry’s work but, until Thursday, he had not been allowed to visit Storchak in a Moscow prison.
The Finance Ministry provided no details of the meeting.