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Seller of military property detained on suspicion of fraud

November 07, 2012, 17:09 UTC+3

Investigative Committee said more suspects were likely to appear in the case

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MOSCOW, November 7 (Itar-Tass) — Police have detained a senior official of the company authorized to sell military property belonging to Oboronservis, the press service of the Interior Ministry told Itar-Tass.

"Agents of the Interior Ministry’s' main department for economic security and combating corruption detained, on suspicion of receiving illegal remuneration, the acting director general of the commercial organization authorized by the Defence Ministry to sell real estate alienated by Oboronservis," the press service said.

It was ascertained that the suspect, together with his accomplices, had offered a representative of the investment company which had applied for purchasing Defence Ministry property, his assistance in handling the transaction. The objects of sale are located in the town of Shchyolkovo, Moscow region, and are worth over 35 million roubles in market prices.

The press service said he had demanded three million roubles for quick production of the Defence Ministry's directive, entering the bid at the official electronic trade floor and a considerable price cut.

Criminal proceeding against the suspect were opened under Article 30, Part 3 and Article 159, Part 4 /"attempted grand fraud"/. The suspect has been placed under arrest.

Earlier, the main military investigation department opened five criminal cases over fraud in the sales of real estate, land plots and shares belonging to the Oboronservis company which is subordinate to the Defence Ministry. The cases were opened under the penal code articles on fraud and exceeding and abusing office powers.

The investigators said Defence Ministry officials had selected the most liquid and prestigious facilities, land plots and shares from the Oboronservis inventory. Then, tremendous budget funds were invested into these assets and the property was sold at very understated prices to the commercial bodies affiliated with Oboronservis.

Many facilities were bought with the money stolen from Oboronservis.

According to preliminary estimates, the damage from the sale of eight real estate facilities exceeds three billion roubles.

Other reports said military prosecutors had exposed the sale of two more Defence Ministry facilities at a price understated by 590 million roubles. The facilities in question were an oil terminal in the Murmansk region that had supplied fuel to the North Fleet, and a package of shares and real estate belonging to the 43rd central experimental production works /an affiliate of Oboronservis/, a unique company that sews military uniforms, which is on the registry of defence sector companies.

The oil terminal was an important element of the military infrastructure of the remote region. In 2010, it was handed over to a depot in the Moscow district of the Air Force and Air Defence, and restructured into a joint-stock company, while its property was privatized on the gratuitous basis.

"The board of directors of the established joint stock company, in accordance with the defence minister's directive, decided that the Navy no longer needed the facility and decided to sell it. According to initial estimates, it was priced at 452 million roubles. The real price was understated by at least 240 million roubles, military prosecutors said.

The previous director general of the oil terminal, who was categorically opposed to this sale, was replaced with a more docile official. On October 17, 2012, the new company executive made a contract of sale of the oil terminal at 455 million roubles.

The parties signed the handover act on the same day, under which the new owner came in possession of the purchased property.

The prosecutors demanded that the registration bodies suspend the transaction.

Also, the prosecutors sent the materials to investigators on the attempted sale in Moscow at an understated price of a package of shares and immovable property belonging to the 43rd central experimental production works, an affiliate of Oboronservis.

The Investigative Committee said on Wednesday more suspects were likely to appear in the case.

"The circle of suspects may expand in the nearest future," SK spokesman Vladimir Markin told Tass.

The suspects are Yekaterina Smetanova, former director general of the "Expert" legal support centre. She also headed the Mira and VitaProject companies. Maxim Zakutailo is former director general of the district storage facility of the Moscow district of the Air Force and Air Defence.

Investigators intend to bring charges against them shortly.

The investigation is being carried out in St Petersburg, the Moscow region, and the Krasnodar territory.

"The SK is cooperating with the Defence Ministry leadership," Markin said.

The SK arrived at the conclusion that the crimes had been committed by the same persons. To ensure completeness and comprehensiveness of the probe, the five criminal cases opened earlier have been pooled together.


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