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Serdyukov may be questioned in property fraud case if there are sufficient reasons – SK

November 28, 2012, 16:06 UTC+3

"The time will come and if we have reasons, we'll question the former minister," Director of Main Military Investigation Department noted

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MOSCOW, November 28 (Itar-Tass) — Director of the Main Military Investigation Department /GVSU/ of the Investigation Committee Alexander Sorochkin does not rule out that former Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov may be questioned within the military property fraud case, if there are sufficient reasons for it.

"The question is of concern to the press; we, too, have been monitoring publications, but these are difficult cases; we have certain experience in investigating them, and we wouldn't like to make mistakes in this case," Sorochkin said during the Internet conference in Moscow on Wednesday.

He reminded about the speculations that former director of the Defence Ministry's property Department Yevgenia Vasilyeva might avoid responsibility as "two suspects have been put in custody while Vasilyeva is at large."

"As you see, they were wrong. The former minister is a citizen like the rest, and the law makes no exceptions here," the GVSU chief underlined.

"I would like our investigative actions – inviting this or that person for questioning or other investigative actions – to be helpful. Believe me, we're working and preparing. The time will come and if we have reasons, we'll question the former minister," Sorochkin noted.

"We are working," he answered laconically without indicating any timeframe.

The price of property seized during the searches in the Oboronservis and Slavyanka cases makes up at least one billion roubles. "The investigators seized a considerable sum: more than 700,000 million roubles in Russian roubles and foreign currency, as well as valuables whose price is now being estimated. The sum of the confiscated items may amount to over one billion roubles.

In each of the criminal cases under investigation, three persons have been arrested. Andrei Lugansky, director of the Security and Communications private company, was arrested within the Slavyanka case on Monday. On Tuesday, a court sanctioned his arrest.

Earlier, the post of director of Security and Communications was occupied by Yelkin, another suspect in the case.

Sorochkin declined to provide further details. "It's difficult to comment on this criminal case, because it is still at the initial stage; therefore I'll refrain from /detailed/ comments for understandable reasons," he said.

The GVSU opened five criminal cases over fraud in selling real estate, land plots and share belonging to Oboronservis, an affiliate of the Defence Ministry. Criminal proceedings were instituted over fraud and abuse of authority and later pooled into one case.

The investigators said Defence Ministry officials had selected the most liquid and prestigious assets belonging to the Ministry, including Moscow-based property. As a rule, tremendous budget funds were injected into the property before it was sold at understated prices to commercial bodies affiliated with Oboronservis, the SK reported earlier.

Also, many facilities were purchased with the money stolen from Oboronservis.

Former head of the Expert legal support centre Yekaterina Smetanova and her husband Maxim Zakutailo were arrested on charges of fraud. Former head of the Defence Ministry's property department Yevgenia Vasilyeva is now under house arrest.

As for the Slavyanka case, the SK arrested director general of the company Alexander Yelkin and chief accountant Yulia Rotanova.

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