Two years after suing Bank of New York Mellon Corp. for $22.5 billion in damages, Russia's customs service has asked to settle its money-laundering claim.

"We are encouraged to have received a letter directly from the Federal Customs Service suggesting that we meet to discuss a potential settlement of the case," Bank of New York Mellon said.

The company did not say how much the customs service might settle for, but a Russian newspaper reported Tuesday that the figure is about $800 million and that the customs service's decision was in response to an order from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

When the Federal Customs Service sued in May 2007, it charged that Bank of New York had helped deprive Russia of billions of dollars in tax revenue in the late 1990s. During the period, about $7 billion was allegedly siphoned out of Russia into Bank of New York accounts by exporters who avoided paying customs duties.

The banking company said it is "open to reasonable discussions with the Federal Customs Service" but called the claims "meritless."

Before filing suit the Federal Customs Service's legal team approached the bank to negotiate an out-of-court settlement for $600 million, but the bank dismissed the offer.

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