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Russian ex-defense minister named witness in fraud case

12:38 28/12/2012

MOSCOW, December 28 – RAPSI. Former Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov remains a witness in the embezzlement case linked to a major defense contractor firm, a source close to the investigation told RIA Novosti.

Serdyukov was summoned for questioning on Friday at the Investigative Committee.

“He answered the questions and was released. He is still a witness in the case,” the source said.

Serdyukov will be called in for further questioning on January 11.

Vladimir Markin, the investigative committee’s official spokesperson, said on Friday that there were serious grounds to call Serdyukov in for questioning. He gave assurances that the investigation into the case over embezzlement of the ministry’s assets would be carried through to its proper end.

It was announced in October that five fraud cases had been initiated on the sale of property, land and shares belonging to Oboronservis, a holding company under the ministry's control. The losses involved were originally thought to be in excess of 3 billion rubles ($97.3 million). Later it was reported that the damages in the criminal cases have exceeded 6.7 billion rubles ($217.3 million).

President Vladimir Putin dismissed Serdyukov from his post on November 6 in order to ensure impartiality in the criminal investigations.

Oboronservis consists of a number of service companies involved in armaments and military vehicle repair and maintenance, construction materials and food production, power facilities operation, cartography and printing goods production, as well as housing services for military towns.

According to investigators, ministry officials bought and invested in commercially attractive facilities that were later sold at substantially reduced prices. The preliminary losses from the sale of eight properties amounted to over 3 billion rubles ($95.24 million).

Yevgenia Vasilyeva, former head of the Defense Ministry's property relations department, was also charged with a large-scale fraud in the case of the Oboronservis holding. She has been placed under house arrest.

The court also arrested former head of the Expert Legal Support Center Yekaterina Smetanova and her husband Maxim Zakutaylo, the former general director of an air force warehouse near Moscow.

She is suspected of fraud in the Oboronservis case for selling property on Smolensky Bulvar in Moscow at reduced prices.

The Accounts Chamber completed an audit at Oboronservis in February 2012 and submitted the results to the law enforcement authorities, the chamber has stated. The performance audit was held from October 2010 to February 2012.

"The board decided to send a letter to the Defense Ministry informing them of the findings," the chamber said. "The report and the information regarding the violations that were uncovered were sent to the Federal Assembly, the Federal Security Service, and the Main Military Prosecutor's Office. The country's leadership has been informed about the situation."

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Russian ex-defense minister named witness in fraud case

12:38 28/12/2012 Former Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov remains a witness in the embezzlement case linked to a major defense contractor firm, says a source close to the investigation.
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