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Two suspected embezzlers of Russian humanitarian aid summoned for questioning

October 28, 2011, 20:36 UTC+3

“Oleg Smirnov and Oleg Brizitsky have been summoned for questioning as suspects,” Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said

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MOSCOW, October 28 (Itar-Tass) —— The Russian Investigation Committee has summoned for questioning two Transdniestrian bankers suspected of the embezzlement of 160 million rubles worth of Russian humanitarian aid to Transdniestria, Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Itar-Tass.

“Oleg Smirnov and Oleg Brizitsky have been summoned for questioning as suspects,” he said.

“As far as we know, Oleg Smirnov is registered in Moscow and has Russian naturalization. He is suspected of buying several apartments in Moscow and a cottage in an elite compound in the Odintsovo district of the Moscow region with the money stolen from Russia. Smirnov is the founder of several commercial companies in Moscow, and detectives will verify them for compliance with Russian tax laws,” Markin said.

A source close to the investigation told Itar-Tass earlier that the son of Transdniestrian leader Igor Smirnov is a suspect in the humanitarian aid embezzlement case.

The Russian Investigation Committee has opened a criminal case over the embezzlement of 160 million rubles Russia assigned to Transdniestria as humanitarian aid for paying extras to pensioners and supporting farmers.

“The Main Investigative Department of the Russian Investigation Committee has brought criminal charges against Transdniestrian Republican Bank Deputy CEO Oleg Brizitsky, Oleg Smirnov and some other individuals suspected of a group conspiracy to embezzle large funds [paragraph 4 of article 160 of the Russian Criminal Code],” Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Itar-Tass.

“According to the detectives, Brizitsky conspired with Smirnov and a number of other individuals and embezzled funds assigned by the Russian Federation to the Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic as humanitarian aid for paying bonuses to pensioners and supporting farmers from November 2008 through November 2009. Their illegal actions caused property damage of about 160 million rubles to the Russian Federation,” he said.

“Investigative procedures are taking place to expose details of the crime,” he said.

If found guilty, the suspects may be sentenced up to ten years with a possible fine of up to one million rubles or their three-year income.

The Transdniestrian parliament asked the State Duma in October 2007 to consider assistance to the drought-stricken region. It was decided to grant humanitarian aid of 640 million rubles ($27.2 million) within the program of support to fellow citizens residing abroad. The first trance of 110 million rubles was transferred to Transdniestria in December and the money was spent on extras to pensioners and on catering at educational and healthcare establishments. The second tranche of humanitarian aid, about $9 million, was transferred to a special account at the Transdniestrian Republican Bank in March to support farmers affected by the severest drought conditions of the past half a century. Russia was giving assistance to people in Transdniestria for three years. Last march the republic received a new tranche of 210.7 million rubles.

According to media reports, Oleg Smirnov headed the Transdniestrian Patriotic Party in 2006, he became the chair of the Social Patriotic Bloc in 2009 and headed the Patriots of Transdniestria movement in 2010. The movement was formed in the merger of the Patriotic and Republican Parties. The media said that Oleg Smirnov quitted politics and moved to Moscow together with his wife. Back in 2003 he was put on the EU blacklist and barred from visits to EU member countries.

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