Russia Probes 25 Defense Ministry Fraud Cases

MOSCOW, February 20 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian authorities are investigating about 25 separate instances of fraud in the widely-publicized Oboronservis case involving illegal sale of the Russian Defense Ministry’s property, Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said on Wednesday.

“Some 25 separate criminal cases have been opened and combined into one probe,” Chaika said at a meeting with Russian lawmakers.

“The damage from these frauds adds up to about 5 billion rubles ($166 million),” he said, adding further damage totaling 2.3 billion rubles has been prevented ($76.5 mln) and about 1 billion rubles ($33 mln) have been recovered.

The investigation led to the sacking of Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov last November, who is still considered a witness in the case.

According to investigators, Serdyukov has been summoned for questioning several times, but refused to answer questions, including those concerning an investigation against his son-in-law.

Several people have been charged and arrested in the case so far, including the former head of the Defense Ministry’s property department Yevgenia Vasilyeva.

Yekaterina Smetanova, a former executive at Oboronservis and key suspect in that investigation, was detained on fraud charges in October last year and signed a pretrial plea bargain agreement shortly after her arrest.

She has been recently released from custody with travel restrictions after cooperating fully with the investigation.

Oboronservis carries out a variety of services relating to Defense Ministry property, including repair and maintenance of equipment and real estate.


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