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Defense Ministry fraud suspect released under restriction notice

17:53 04/02/2013

MOSCOW, February 4 - RAPSI. Yekaterina Smetanova, a suspect in the Oboronservice fraud case, has been released under restriction notice after spending several months in pretrial detention, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said on Monday.

The case against Smetanova is part of a major corruption scandal at the Defense Ministry, which involves the company's subsidiary Oboronservice.

The court is now processing criminal cases against 10 ministry officials as a single proceeding involving Oboronservice's illegal sale of ministry property. Based on the estimates, the damages from these deals add up to roughly 4 billion rubles. Smetanova has been charged with fraud and bribery, Markin said. In December 2012, she signed a pretrial cooperation agreement.

"Smetanova is abiding by her commitments under the agreement by cooperating with the investigators," he said. "She has pleaded guilty to the crimes of which she has been accused, and provided detailed and consistent testimony exposing the other individuals involved in the crime."

Markin has not cited any of these individuals' names.

It was announced last October that five fraud cases had been initiated regarding the sale of property, land and shares belonging to Oboronservice, a holding company controlled by the Defense Ministry. The losses involved were initially estimated at over 3 billion rubles ($97.3 million), but it was later reported that they exceeded 6.7 billion rubles($217.3 million).

Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov was dismissed amid an investigation into these real estate frauds last November to ensure the impartiality of the investigations.

Smetanova was one of the first to be arrested. The Khamovniki District Court in Moscow approved her arrest in November on suspicion of involvement in fraudulent transactions with real estate in central Moscow. Charges have also been brought against Smetanova's husband, former head of an Air Force depot Maxim Zakutailo, and Yevgenia Vasilyeva, former head of the Defense Ministry property relations department.

The ten criminal cases against ministry officials concerned with the illegal sale of large military property assets by Oboronservice have been united into one case.

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Defense Ministry fraud suspect released under restriction notice

17:53 04/02/2013 Yekaterina Smetanova, a suspect in the Oboronservice fraud case, has been released under restriction notice after spending several months in pretrial detention.
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