Defense Ministry officer arrested for unprecedented bribe of $6.4 million

Defense Ministry officer arrested for unprecedented bribe of $6.4 million

For this money the military officer ensured contracts with the military department to the ‘loyal’ companies.⁠

The Main Military Investigation Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia (ICR) has begun to investigate a criminal case against Colonel Alexander Vakulin, the Head of the Food Supply Management Department of the Ministry of Defense.

Vakulin is suspected of receiving 368 million rubles ($6.4m) as a bribe for concluding contracts of the military department with commercial organizations supplying kitchens, bakeries, cisterns and other special equipment, according to Kommersant. Moreover, large thefts were committed during the execution of the contracts.

The Colonel is charged with Swindling on as especially large scale (part 4 of Art. 159 of the Criminal Code) and Bribe-Taking on an especially large scale (part 6 of Article 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). By decision of the 235th garrison military court he was placed in jail until October, 29 of this year.

The court dismissed the appeal of the defense, which opposed the confinement, stating that the investigation did not prove Vakulin's intention to abscond from the investigation or the court, to continue to engage in criminal activities, threaten witnesses or other participants in criminal proceedings, and destroy evidence or prevent production in the criminal case in some other manner. When making the decision, the court took into account that the colonel was accused of two grave crimes at the same time.

According to the sources of the publication, the siloviki closed in on Colonel Vakulin as early as the spring of this year, when police and ICR in St. Petersburg officers discovered multimillion-ruble embezzlements during the conclusion of contracts between the Ministry of Defense and St. Petersburg Profbiznes LLC in winter 2015. The organization undertook to supply the equipment needed to provide military officers with food for a total of 685 million rubles ($11.9m). Earlier, the Office of the Federal Antimonopoly Service (OFAS) discovered signs of a 'cartel agreement' between the Defense Ministry and Profbiznes LLC, as well as TD Spetstekhmash LLC and TD Stilllag, which were tied by another 11 contracts for a total of 2.2 billion rubles ($38.2m). The OFAS established the relationship between the founders and general directors of the companies, which in fact turned out to be one organization that participated in bidding from one IP address and used the same phone number as a contact one.

In addition, according to the investigation, during the performance of the contract, the companies supplied equipment of inadequate quality, thus having stolen about 20 million rubles ($348 thousand). In March 2017 St. Petersburg saw investigators of the ICR opening a criminal case on swindling, in which several people were detained, including one of the leaders of Profbiznes, Alexei Kalitin. In the summer of this year, the investigation was transferred from St. Petersburg to the Main Military Investigation Directorate in Moscow.

Soon one of the detainees told the investigation about the role of Vakulin in the selection of companies for the conclusion of major contracts of the Ministry of Defense and receiving monetary rewards for this.

Prior to his relatively recent transfer to Moscow, Vakulin served in the city of Baltiysk, the Kaliningrad region. He repeatedly traveled around the country with various inspections and even lectures on logistics of troops.

It should be added that his case is led by the senior investigator for particularly important cases of the 3rd Investigation Department of the Main Military Investigation Directorate, Vitaly Danilov, who earlier investigated the thefts in Oboronservis.

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