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10 November 2015

INTERPOL cooperation leads to first Sierra Leone-Russia extradition

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone – A Russian company director wanted on charges of business fraud has been extradited to the Russian capital from Sierra Leone following intensive police co-operation between the INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCB) in Freetown and Moscow.

Accused of defrauding a national bank using counterfeit documents, 58-year-old Russian citizen Anatoliy Palukhin allegedly illegally acquired RUB 66,000,000 (almost EUR 1 million) from the bank in 2009 before fleeing the country.

With the fugitive also suspected of using his employee’s unpaid salaries for personal expenses, INTERPOL Moscow sent an INTERPOL diffusion to all member countries in June 2013 asking for assistance in locating him.

Police investigations conducted by INTERPOL Moscow with NCBs in all continents soon revealed that the wanted man was communicating with friends and family using a Sierra-Leone-based telephone.

INTERPOL Moscow immediately alerted its Freetown counterpart, which was quick to locate and arrest the fugitive in Sierra Leone on 6 October.

“This is the first extradition coordinated with Sierra Leone since Russia joined INTERPOL in 1990.  The speed and efficiency with which we worked together in bringing this case to fruition are a credit to the police forces in both countries,”   said the Head of INTERPOL Moscow, Alexander Prokopchuk, who is also INTERPOL’s Executive Committee delegate for Europe.  

With Assistant Superintendent Bassie Mans-Dabo, Head of INTERPOL Freetown, personally handing Palukhin over to Russian authorities at Freetown international airport on 23 October, the suspect was extradited to Russia under INTERPOL Moscow escort the same day and handed over to Omsk Police authorities immediately upon arrival.

 “INTERPOL’s global network connecting investigators across the globe is what brings this kind of policing success,” said Head of INTERPOL Freetown Bassie Mans-Dabo.   

“This case clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of inter-agency and cross-border co-operation in effectively tracking fugitives no matter where they try to hide.  INTERPOL’s 190-member-country network of National Central Bureaus makes international travel highly risky and virtually impossible for fugitives,” added Bassie Mans-Dabo.

If convicted, Anatoliy Palukhin faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years for large-scale misappropriation by fraud, non-payment of wages and embezzlement.