Knowledge is power: school headmaster caught laundering teachers’ salaries

A headmaster at a school in Moscow is wanted by police on suspicion of defrauding parents and teachers.

He is accused of stealing a million dollars in donations from a school development fund.

Parents became suspicious after being asked for large sums of money to get their kids admitted into the school.

When investigators went to search the headmaster’s house outside Moscow, they found a mansion worth $20 million.

It has a swimming pool and a fountain, contains antique furniture and is decorated with anaconda and zebra skins. The walls of the living room are lined with pearls.

The headmaster, who has been suspended and is on the federal wanted list, is hiding from police. Investigators say he may also have cheated the school’s teachers.

“There were real pay slips from the department of education and fake ones, which he printed himself,” said senior investigator Pavel Kuzhnetsov. “On them was a line marked ‘difference.’ He lied to teachers by telling them they’d been overpaid by mistake, and that they had to return this difference to him. That is how he cheated his own colleagues.”

­Police fake murders to get cash bonuses

Meanwhile, Moscow’s post-reform police force is again at the centre of a corruption scandal.

Several high-ranking cops have swindled bonuses for themselves by solving “crimes” that never actually happened. These include several fake murders.

Some of the crimes did take place, but were solved by other departments. The bonuses were paid into the accounts of regular cops. They were then ordered to withdraw the money and hand it over to the bosses.

Investigators say at least a million rubles was stolen in this way. They suspect the real figure is higher.

­Corruption in figures

Overwhelming corruption has long been one of Russia’s most burning issues. Despite the authorities’ wide anti-corruption measures, the cost of a bribe in Russia has risen this year to $10,000, which is seven times more than the last year.

The health and education sectors were singled out as the most corrupt. Doctors, teachers and policemen were the three top bribe-generating professions in 2010, according to the Moscow Court. The most popular motives for bribery were covering up crimes, providing medical paperwork and inflating school grades.

Even the 100-fold hiked fines for bribery have not impeded the practice. Medvedev’s corruption bill, adopted months ago, introduced provisions that increased fines for crimes related to bribery to 100 times the sum of the bribe, but not more than 500 million rubles.

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