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Russian investigators detain suspected mastermind of $27-million bank fraud scheme

The Russian Central Bank revoked the license from Taurus Bank in April 2015

MOSCOW, December 22. /TASS/. Russian investigators have detained a man, suspected of masterminding a scheme to defraud the now-defunct Taurus Bank of 1.6 billion rubles (some $27.3 million at the current exchange rate), a spokeswoman for the Russian Investigative Committee has said.

The suspect, identified as Agustin Morales-Escomilla, is accused of attempted swindling and misappropriation of funds.

Investigators also identified at least seven of his accomplices, who were also charged.

According to investigators, Morales-Escomilla and other suspects bought a controlling stake in the bank in 2014. Later, members of the criminal group were appointed to senior posts in the bank. They stole over 1.6 billion rubles from the bank by signing false loan agreements with individuals and organizations.

"In fact, those individuals and legal entities have never applied for a loan from Taurus bank, and the above-mentioned money was stolen by the fraudsters," Investigative Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said.

The Russian Central Bank revoked the license from Taurus Bank in April 2015, but even after that the group attempted to steal another 505 million rubles (about $8.6 million) under the guise of insurance payments.

"The circumstances surrounding this crime and other persons who may be involved in the scheme are still being established," the spokeswoman said.