MOSCOW, September 9 - RAPSI. Investigators have charged a former Defense Ministry chief maritime engineer with large-scale fraud, the main military investigative department reported on Friday.

Investigators discovered that in autumn 2007 Mikhail Maistrenko convinced the director of the 23rd State Marine Design Institute in St. Petersburg to enter into a subcontractor contract worth roughly 40 million rubles ($1.3 million) with Ocean (Okean) company, owned by Maistrenko. Under the contract, Ocean was supposed to develop the design documents for the reconstruction of training centers and the Marine College of the Admiral Makarov State Maritime Academy.

It was later discovered that Ocean was a shell company with no staff to meet its contractual obligations. In order to carry out the work, Maistrenko engaged the architectural and construction department of the institute to develop the design documents for roughly 3 million rubles ($101,689). Maistrenko altered the seal on the contract in an attempt to hide the fraud.

Maistrenko faces up to ten years in prison.