Defense Ministry contractor's case: $800 thousand stolen from one of defendants

Defense Ministry contractor's case: $800 thousand stolen from one of defendants
Former first Deputy Director of Spetsstroy Alexander Zagorulko

A criminal case was opened centering on the theft. Meanwhile, all persons involved in the embezzlement case during the construction of Defense Ministry facilities were charged.

The Main Military Investigation Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia (ICR) has charged five persons involved in criminal cases on embezzlement of more than 1 billion rubles ($16.6 m) in the construction of Russian military facilities, Kommersant reports. The charges were brought against former first Deputy Director of Spetsstroy Alexander Zagorulko, Deputy Director Alexander Buryakov and executives of contractors Kadyr Karakhanov, Vakha Artsygov and Arsen Oshakbanev. Materials of cases with a volume of approximately 70 volumes each were handed to them. A little more than a month is allocated for studying them. In early January 2018, cases will be forwarded to the Prosecutor General's Office for approval, and then - to the courts.

The investigation considers Alexander Zagorulko the organizer of the criminal group. According to law enforcement officers, he instructed his subordinate Alexander Buryakov to find 'compliant' contractors for the construction of facilities of the Russian Defense Ministry. One of these businessmen was executive director of Promspetsstroy PJSC Group Kadyr Karakhanov. The investigation believes that Zagorulko and Buryakov agreed with him on kickbacks in the amount of 10% of each contract.

The entrepreneurs accepted the stipulated terms. To compensate the amount of kickbacks, they overvalued the estimate for the construction of objects. They transferred the funds received to the accounts of shell companies, and then cashed them and shared among themselves. The cost of repairing the military campus Chernyshevskiye barracks by this scheme has steepened more than twofold - from 400 million ($6.6 m) to 825 million rubles ($13.7 m). Most of this money went to the accounts of firms with which fictitious contracts were concluded for the performance of various services. In the same way, budget funds were used to build a military town in Kubinka in the Moscow region and an intelligence facility on the island of Iturup. The entrepreneurs are accused of embezzling over 1 billion rubles ($16.6 m).

In the course of the investigation Zagorulko and Buryakov pleaded guilty and entered into cooperation agreements with the investigation. Their cases were separated into individual proceedings, and they themselves were transferred to house arrest. The ex-heads of Spetsstroy are charged with Swindling (part 4 of Art. 159 of the Criminal Code) in collusion with entrepreneurs and Bribe-taking on an especially large scale (part 6 of Art. 299 of the Criminal Code). By their own admission, they received bribes both in cash and in the form of expensive cars.

During the investigation it was found out that the businessmen gave kickbacks forcedly - under threat of termination of contracts. In this regard, the charge of bribe-giving was dropped from them. One of the entrepreneurs, Vakha Artsygov, went to cooperate with the investigation, but he was left in the detention center.

The defense of the other two businessmen considers the allegations unproven, and their detention in custody unlawful. The lawyers are convinced that the investigators misestablished the cost of the works carried out at the facilities. At the same time, they are denied an independent expert examination. Karakhanov's lawyer, Vladimir Starinsky, said that while building on the island of Iturup, his client's company, using its own money, performed work for "hundreds of millions of rubles," but the client refused to accept them, which was the reason for the investigation.

It also transpired that 50 million rubles ($833.5 thousand), arrested by the investigators, disappeared from the safety deposit box registered with Karakhanov's relatives. Relatives of the accused collected documents on the fact that the money belonged to them, and not to the entrepreneur, but failed to get the money back. Instead, the law enforcement authorities said that in connection with the theft of this sum, a criminal case was initiated under the relevant article – Theft (part 4 of Art. 158 of the Criminal Code).

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