Andrei Kozlov

'Incorruptible' Kremlin banker
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The Independent Online

Andrei Andreievich Kozlov, banker: born Moscow 6 January 1965; First Deputy Head, Bank of Russia 1997-99, 2002-06; married (three children); died Moscow 14 September 2006.

Andrei Kozlov held down one of the most difficult and dangerous jobs in post-Communist Russia: cleaning up the country's sleaze-soaked banking sector. As First Deputy Head of Russia's Central Bank, he had oversight of some 1,200 banks, dozens of which he suspected of being money-laundering fronts.

In a country where bribe-taking is routine, Kozlov styled himself as an incorruptible anti-corruption crusader whose mission was to introduce Western-style transparency and order. He waged a determined campaign against banks that he thought had been infiltrated by organised crime and was seemingly unafraid of putting powerful noses out of joint.

He enjoyed a reputation as a hard worker; during 2006 he stripped 44 banks of their licences, arguing that they were on the wrong side of the law and guilty of offences ranging from tax evasion to money laundering. Had he lived longer, few doubted he would have continued working methodically through his "blacklist" of rotten banks, closing them down at an average rate of one a week. Last week he opened a new front in his one-man war on crooked bankers, calling for any financiers involved in money laundering or tax fraud to be banned from the profession for life.

Kozlov's peers believe his zeal played a major role in restoring ordinary people's faith in the banking sector. That faith had been lost in 1998 when millions of Russians lost their life savings after the government defaulted on $40bn of debt. Countless others' first taste of capitalism was being conned out of their hard-earned cash in "pyramid scams" in the mid-1990s. Russians therefore needed to be coaxed back and Kozlov introduced a deposit insurance law and tightened banking supervision to help restore confidence. A cautious man, he wondered aloud earlier this year whether he had been too successful, as tens of thousands of people rushed to borrow large sums of money from banks at exorbitant interest rates to improve the quality of their lives.

Andrei Kozlov's CV read like that of a man who followed a straight line and made few mistakes in life. Born in Moscow in 1965, he did his mandatory two-year stint in the Soviet army from 1983, and in 1989 graduated from the Moscow Financial Institute after studying there on and off for six years. Aged 24 he landed himself a job as a senior economist in the then Soviet Central Bank and swiftly rose up the career ladder, staying with the bank when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and it became the Russian Central Bank. In 1997 he was elevated to the position he held when he died - First Deputy Head. From 1999 to 2002 he had a break from the job he would later come back to, working at a private bank, doing his own consultancy work, and heading the Russian office of USAid, the US government's foreign development agency.

Fluent in English and German, Kozlov was known as unusually approachable. He was shot dead by two gunmen in a contract killing as he left a Moscow football stadium where he had just participated in a friendly corporate match with colleagues.

Andrew Osborn

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