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MOSCOW, February 14 (Itar-Tass) - Official charges have been brought against Felix Shamkhalov, the former head of the Higher Academic Degrees Commission of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, who is suspected of a 1.5-billion rouble theft from Vensheconombank (VEB), a spokesman for the Moscow police department told Itar-Tass on Thursday.
“Shamkhalov is charged of large-scale fraud (part 4, article 159 of the Russian Criminal Code,” the spokesman said. Shamkhalov is accused of stealing 1.5 billion roubles from Vnesheconombank, by previous concert with yet unidentified persons.
In the mean time, Shamakhov’s lawyer, Mikhail OLeinik, told Itar-Tass that his client “does not admit his guilt but is ready to collaborate with investigators.”
According to the lawyer, Shamakhov refused on Thursday to testify and asked to adjourn the interrogation. “We want to scrutinize the incrimination and it will take time,” he said and added that his client would be ready to answer investigator’s questions after that.
Shamkhalov was detained on February 5 on suspicion of being involved in the Vneshecomonbank’s money theft. The bank allocated the money to sponsor the construction of an elite residential estate. The criminal case on large-scale fraud was opened following a check stages by the Russian interior ministry’s economic security department and a police statement by the VEB chairman.
On February 7, Shamkhalov was dismissed from the post of the Higher Academic Degrees Commission.
Moscow’s Tverskoi district court ruled to keep him in custody until March 24.
Prior to this, according to the interior ministry’s spokesman, Shamkhalov was interrogated as a witness. His office and apartment were searched. Investigators also interrogated director general of the company Zarechye-2 Anton Solovarov.
Shamkhalov is also involved in the recent scandal at the Moscow Teachers Training University /MPGU/, in which some 17 recently awarded Doctor of Philosophy degrees were challenged. After a check, MPGU Academic Decgrees Council chief Alexander Danilov was fired.