MOSCOW, March 7 (RAPSI) – Former Russian defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov was pardoned earlier this year, but the information was deliberately kept secret under the terms of an agreement reached between the minister’s attorneys and the investigators, attorney Genrikh Padva said at a Moscow Attorneys Club meeting Thursday night.

According to Padva, the agreement was reached in an effort to avoid “agitating the public.” The former minister's attorney added, “It would be better do resolve this case quietly. The Olympics were underway, everyone was busy with that. We decided to avoid unnessecary publicity.” 

Earlier, several media outlets reported that the ex-minister, who has been implicated in a major Defense contracting fraud case, was relieved of the charges pending against him due to a broad amnesty extended in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Russian constitution, after he himself made the request.

Anatoly Serdyukov lost his position as Defense Minister in November as an investigation unfolded into a suspected 13 billion rubles ($363 million) fraud case involving alleged irregularities in the sale of ministry real estate.

Serdyukov, 52, was the most high-profile target of an anti-corruption campaign that Russian President Vladimir Putin launched after the 2012 elections. Putin gave the Defense Ministry’s top job to the former furniture dealer and tax official in 2007, tasking him with improving efficiency and reducing corruption. But in 2012, the Investigative Committee, which is directly subordinate to the president, launched a string of criminal cases against Serdyukov and his affiliates.

In December, Serdyukov was charged with negligence after investigators claimed he had cost the state 56 million rubles’ ($1.6 million) worth of damage by ordering soldiers to build a private road to a Caspian Sea holiday resort owned by his brother-in-law.