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VIM Airlines CEO, chief accountant taken into custody, Russian detectives say

September 28, 2017, 12:39 UTC+3

Co-owners of Russia’s troubled VIM Airlines have fled the country

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Passengers of delayed VIM Airlines flights at Domodedovo International Airport

Passengers of delayed VIM Airlines flights at Domodedovo International Airport

© Mikhail Pochuyev/TASS

MOSCOW, September 28. /TASS/. Investigators have detained the CEO and chief accountant of Russia’s debt-laden VIM Airlines, Investigative Committee Official Spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said on Thursday.

"The airline’s Director General Alexander Kochnev along with Chief Accountant Yekaterina Panteleyeva have been taken into custody by the Investigative Committee’s main department for probing serious crimes as part of a criminal case on embezzling passengers’ funds (Article 159.4 of Russia’s Criminal Code)," the spokeswoman clarified.

The investigators will be pressing charges soon and requesting the court to choose a pre-trial restriction measure.

Co-owners of Russia’s troubled VIM Airlines, also known as VIM-Avia, have fled the country and a manhunt for them is underway, she said.

"The company’s co-owners Rashid and Svetlana Mursekayev have hastily fled the country, and according to the investigators, they are abroad. Therefore, measures are being taken to locate them," Petrenko explained.

Fraud charges are being filed after mass delays and cancellations of flights by VIM Airlines, Russia’s tenth largest carrier.

According to detectives, since September 22, the airline’s officials had continued selling tickets despite knowing that the flights could not be carried out. They allegedly collected more than 1 million rubles ($17,000).

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