MOSCOW, March 28 (RIA Novosti) – Investigators have pressed new charges against Russia’s ex-Defense Ministry official Yevgenia Vasilyeva, accusing her of embezzling assets worth over 190 million rubles ($6.1 million), the Investigative Committee said on Thursday.
“The military investigative department of the Russian Investigative Committee has charged the former head of the Defense Ministry’s property department, Yevgenia Vasilyeva, with embezzling shares in the 31st State Design Institute of Special Construction worth over 190 million rubles,” the committee said in a statement.
Vasilyeva’s lawyer, Alexander Gofshtein, denied that investigators had brought new charges against his client.
Shares in the institute, which was located in downtown Moscow and designed facilities for the country’s defense needs, were purchased at a knockdown price by two commercial structures. VitaProject company, which was controlled by Vasilyeva at that time, acquired 70 percent of the shares, and Sosnovoborelektromontazh open joint stock company, which was owned by the Titan-2 construction holding, purchased a 30-percent stake in the institute.
Titan-2 was at that time co-owned by the wife and daughter of the former deputy defense minister and current head of the Russian Federal Agency of Special Construction, Grigory Naginsky, according to the Investigative Committee.
The committee also said in its statement that the current head of VitaProject had voluntarily returned the company’s 70-percent stake in the institute to the Russian government, and that the owner of the remaining 30 percent had expressed their willingness to do the same.
Vasilyeva was charged along with other people as part of a 13-billion ruble ($433-million) fraud case involving the illegal sale of property, land and shares belonging to subsidiaries of the state-run Oboronservis holding company. She faces up to six years in prison.
Oboronservis performs a variety of services relating to Defense Ministry property, including repair and maintenance of equipment and real estate.
Other defendants in the case, which led to the dismissal of former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, are Yekaterina Smetanova, a former executive at Oboronservis, and her husband Maxim Zakutailo, former CEO of an Air Force depot.
In late October, Vasilyeva’s apartment was searched during an investigation into the sale of state property at prices below their market value. Investigators seized antiques, jewelry and 3 million rubles ($96,000).
Earlier this month, a Moscow court ruled to arrest the property of Vasilyeva, which included one apartment in Moscow, two apartments in St. Petersburg and some 600 square meters of commercial property in downtown Moscow.
She is currently under house arrest, having been ordered to wear an electronic ankle tag.