A top Russian banker hiding in London has reportedly paid $200,000 (£140,000) to an American lobbying firm to secure a US visa.
According to Russian daily Kommersant, Andrey Borodin, the former president of the Bank of Moscow, paid the London branch of BGR Group, a US multinational which specialises in lobbying and strategic communications.
The firm has refused to comment but US newspaper The Hill reported that Borodin's application was being handled by some of the company's most prominent figures, including former Mississippi governor Haley Reeves Barbour and Maya Seiden, who was part of Barack Obama's presidential administration.
Disclosure forms seen by the newspaper show the duo have directly contacted the US State Department on behalf of the Russian banker.
Borodin fled to Britain in 2011 and was granted asylum two years later. He had been accused of fraud and corruption along with his former deputy, Dmitry Akulinin.
Shortly after settling in Britain, Borodin acquired the country's most expensive house in 2011, paying £140m for Park Place Estate, near Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire.
According to a criminal case launched in 2010, he and Akulinin allegedly enabled a loan of 13bn rubles (£230m) from the bank – which was then partly controlled by the Moscow city government – to a company that used the money to buy land from a property magnate at an inflated price.
The magnate was Yelena Baturina, the wife of then Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov, who was one of Borodin's mentors.
Luzkhov was ousted in 2010 after a public disagreement with Dmitry Medvedev, the former president who is now Russia's prime minister.
Borodin has repeatedly said that the case against him was politically motivated. He accused Medvedev of being the "chief initiator of all this persecution and hounding".
In October 2012, assets totalling over £265m belonging to Borodin and Akulinin were frozen in banks across Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland.
Following Borodin's exile, Bank of Moscow, the country's fifth largest bank, was given the biggest bailout in Russian history, worth $14bn.