Police Probe $3M Embezzlement at Bolshoi

MOSCOW, June 13 (RIA Novosti) – Russian police are investigating a suspected embezzlement of 90 million rubles (about $3 million) in tax-payer money allocated for remodeling work at the Bolshoi Theater, the Interior Ministry said Thursday.

In 2005, the Bolshoi’s construction and restoration administration contracted a private company to modernize the 19th-century theater’s electrical system, the ministry said in a statement on its website.

Although the contractor failed to meet its obligations by the time specified in the contract, the Bolshoi administration paid about 90 million rubles for the work.

The Interior Ministry has initiated a criminal case on a charge of grand fraud. The investigation is ongoing, and other possible instances of unlawful activity are being examined, the ministry said.

The Bolshoi reconstruction project, which lasted from 2005 to 2011, was marred by repeated delays and fraud allegations. Russian prosecutors opened a probe in 2009 into the suspected embezzlement of millions of dollars during the renovation.

The theater’s extensive reconstruction cost an estimated 35.4 billion rubles ($1.2 billion), according to the Russian Audit Chamber.

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