St. Petersburg: Two suspects of embezzling $801k from Maly Drama Theatre arrested

St. Petersburg: Two suspects of embezzling $801k from Maly Drama Theatre arrested
Maksim Korneev

The FSB Directorate in St. Petersburg had launched a fraud investigation; three suspected were arrested.

The Smolninsky District Court of St. Petersburg imposed pre-trial restrictions on the suspects on February 22. They are suspected of stealing money when building a new stage for the Maly Drama Theatre (or the Theatre of Europe), according to Kommersant.

The Court refused to release Maksim Korneev on a 1.5-million-ruble ($17,600) bail and put him in the pre-trial detention center No. 3 until April 20. Aleksandr Puchkov – the second suspect – was placed in detention for the same period several hours later, according to the St. Petersburg Courts’ Press Service.

The Court released Olga Sharikova – the third suspect – on a 2.5-million-ruble ($44,200) bail. Puchkov and Sharikova are heads of Korneev’s companies. The former is the head of M-Proekt, while the latter is the head of Mira Grupp. Korneev owns a 25% and 100% stake in the two companies, respectively.

The FSB argued Korneev needs to be arrested since he may flee; the businessman had held the Ukrainian citizenship and the US visa.

The FSB Directorate in St. Petersburg had launched a fraud investigation; three suspected were arrested. 45 million rubles ($793,000) allocated for the stage were stolen, according to investigators’ estimates.

Korneev orchestrated the fraud and stole at least 45.5 million from bank accounts of the Russian Ministry of Culture’s Severo-Zapadnaya Direktsiya Po Stroitelstvu, Rekonstruktsii I Restovratsii between October 2015 and March 2016, according to the investigators. The public money was allocated to design a new stage for the Maly Drama Theatre. First, it was transferred to Teatralno-Dekoratsionnye Masterskie and then to its subsidiary Stroysoyuz SV. Korveev was the latter’s beneficiary. When questioned, Korneev insisted the work had been completed and claimed there are documents proving this.

There was no crime, attorney Anatoly Loginov said. He promised to appeal his client’s arrest in the St. Petersburg City Court.

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