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Activity of Russia’s’ innovation hub Skolkovo beyond the law

May 31, 2013, 10:52 UTC+3

Last year the Audit Chamber found multiple violations in the innovation centre and handed over the case to the Investigative Committee

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The Audit Chamber found out that Russia’s innovation hub Skolkovo had no right to issue grants. It said the law on Skolkovo proved a serious gap, it had no mention of grants, the Vedomosti business daily wrote. Last autumn during the Audit Chamber’s inspections this right was not fixed in the foundation’s charter. The more so the agreement on budget subsidies did not envision the issuance of grants, auditor Sergei Ryabukhin was quoted by the daily as saying. The issuance of grants meets the project’s goal, but it does not comply with the laws, he said urging necessary amendments to the documents.

For three years around 50 billion roubles had been allocated to Skolkovo from the budget and 36 billion roubles more will be injected until 2015. The foundation spent around 30 billion roubles: 5.8 billion roubles - on grants to resident innovators, 1.2 billion roubles - on investments into the institute and the rest - on infrastructure.

Last year the Audit Chamber found multiple violations in the innovation centre and handed over the case to the Investigative Committee.

Ryabukhin explained that the reason for many violations are gaps in the law on innovation centre Skolkovo, in the charter and documents. From April 25 the foundation should have conducted an evaluation of all projects, but failed to adopt its rules. A provision on the investment and grant committee contained no requirements for bidders, rules for filing and processing applications, but this fact did not stop the foundation from issuing 102 grants worth 5.8 billion roubles, the auditor said.

Skolkovo Foundation President Viktor Vekselberg recognized all claims related to the foundation’s charter as well as other 51 violations, Ryabukhin said. The foundation’s representative made no comments, but Skolkovo’s answers to the daily’s questions show that the foundation considered auditors’ claims justified.

Amendments to the law on Skolkovo are now being discussed, a source close to the presidential administration said adding that Skolkovo supervisor in the Kremlin, Andrei Fursenko, is studying the situation. “His position is if there is no direct reference in the law, this does not mean that the foundation violated anything.” If the Audit Chamber does not like the law, it is necessary to amend it, the source said. “The Kremlin seriously plans to continue the project.”

The Investigative Committee lays serious claims to a 400 million rouble grant issued to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, non-resident of the innovation centre. A person, who organized the deal, said the sum is much higher - around 500 million roubles, the funds were injected into the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology.

Under the charter the foundation may issue grants only to participants in the projects, the deal is beyond the law. The law restricts a circle of grant receivers.

A decision to issue a grant to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was taken by the government, a former manager of the foundation recalled. The presidential administration wrote to the Cabinet that the grant can be issued and there was no need to amend the bill.

The foundation’s managers warned the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that the project with Skolkovo is risky, the foundation’s former employee said. “But there was too much money in the project and they decided - “game is worth the candle.”

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