Russian opposition lawmaker faces embezzlement charges in hi-tech hub probe
- Former Skolkovo VP to be charged over $750,000 embezzlement
- High-ranking official questioned over Skolkovo mala fide scandal
- Skolkovo Vice President suspended over criminal investigation
- Skolkovo Foundation's case against opposition lawmaker to be heard on May 20
- Skolkovo Foundation to sue opposition lawmaker for mala fide services
MOSCOW, May 20 (RAPSI) - Investigators will open a case against State Duma member Ilya Ponomaryov on charges of embezzling $750,000 from the Skolkovo Foundation, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Izvestia newspaper. They will seek to strip him of his parliamentary immunity.
According to the investigators, former Skolkovo Vice President Alexei Beltyukov paid Ponomaryov $750,000 of the foundation's money without sanction between February 2011 and February 2012 for lectures and research projects. An investigation was launched into Beltyukov's actions so as to analyze the subject, the content and the academic value of the lectures which Ponomaryov was contracted to provide for $300,000.
Until recently, Ponomaryov was named a witness in this case. He was questioned on May 16 and told reporters after interrogation his status in the case had not changed.
"The investigators informed Ponomaryov the last time he was questioned that they intended to open a case against him and sought to strip him of his parliamentary immunity," Markin said.
Ponomaryov told Izvestia he would not like to forecast the outcome of these latest actions.
According to Izvestia, Skolkovo President Viktor Vekselberg was also questioned as a witness on May 18 and told the investigators he was interested in uncovering the truth and ensuring transparency in Skolkovo's operation.
The Skolkovo Foundation, set up in 2010 by then President Dmitry Medvedev, is the primary agency for the Skolkovo high-tech development hub, which includes a business center, a science and technology institute and a management school. The project is intended to showcase the drive to diversify and modernize the Russian economy.
Vekselberg, president of Renova Group, is one of the foundation's prime investors.