Banker Found Dead & Tortured: Officials say it could be ‘Suicide’

MOSCOW, December 7 (RIA Novosti) – A top manager of state-controlled VTB, Russia’s second-largest bank, was found dead on Thursday afternoon in the empty swimming pool of his luxury country house near Moscow.

Oleg Zhukovsky, who handled deals with major clients in the timber industry, had been tied up and tortured, business daily Kommersant reported on Friday citing investigators.

A ‘suicide note’ found in the house read: “I am tired of living. I ask you not to blame anyone.” Handwriting experts are ascertaining who penned the note.

The paper said investigators found evidence that the house, in the elite Lesnaya Opushka community in the Odintsovo District, to the west of the capital, had been broken into, and that a plastic bag had been put over Zhukovsky’s head. The banker was known to have heart trouble, and may have died while being tortured, investigators said.

However, a high-ranking investigation source told RIA Novosti that suicide was still being considered as a possible cause of death.

“There were no signs of violence on the body,” he said, adding that the cause of death would be announced following an autopsy.

A senior official at VTB said: “Colleagues of Zhukovsky had not noticed any apparent motivation for suicide. The late banker had planned to proceed with his work in the bank.”

The Moscow Region Prosecutor’s Office told RIA Novosti that investigators will decide on whether to start criminal proceedings following forensic examinations.

Zhukovsky oversaw VTB’s deals with major timber companies. Large parts of the country’s timber industry are rumored to be controlled by criminal gangs, and the national budget loses hundreds of million of dollars a year from illegal logging, which is also believed to be a major cause of wildfires in the country.

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Clare Swinney

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