MOSCOW, February 18 - RAPSI. Former Defense Minster Anatoly Serdyukov may be charged with fraud and abuse of office this week, Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper reports on Monday with reference to an undisclosed source in military justice system.

Serdyukov may face charges under two Criminal Code articles and a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov was dismissed amid a corruption scandal last November to ensure impartiality in the criminal investigations. He has been summoned twice for questioning as a witness in embezzlement cases linked to Oboronservice, a major defense contractor firm.

Allegations of corruption in the Defense Ministry have made headlines over the course of the last few months. Ten criminal cases have been opened against ministry staff, who are thought to have sold large real estate assets belonging to the ministry at a huge discount, incurring losses to the country in excess of 4 billion rubles (around $133 million).

Investigators believe that Defense Ministry officials were selecting the most liquid and prestigious facilities, land plots and shares out of Oboronservice's assets, and would then invest huge budget funds in them for a subsequent sale at a significantly reduced price to commercial structures affiliated with Oboronservice.

Oboronservice comprises companies dealing in repair and technical maintenance services for weapons and military vehicles, construction materials manufacture, food production, power facility management, cartography and printing services and also housing services for military towns.