MOSCOW, May 16 (RAPSI) - The police have revealed new facts regarding the embezzlement of funds that were allocated for the development of the GLONASS global navigation satellite system. The current and former heads of Synertech have been detained, the Interior Ministry's Moscow department reported.
The police have established that Synertech managers embezzled at least 85 million rubles ($2.7 million) allocated for space research, the statement reads.
The Interior Ministry earlier reported the embezzlement of over 565 million rubles ($18 million) in budget funds that were allocated for the GLONASS project and launched criminal proceedings. The ministry suspected Russian Space Systems management of concluding research contracts with commercial organizations that had neither the equipment nor the qualified personnel to implement them.
The companies involved are the Space Instrument Making research and production association and Synertech.
Synertech is a joint venture of EADS Astrium and Tesat Spacecom with Russian Space Systems. It was set up in 2005 to promote the mutually beneficial cooperation of space industry enterprises in the creation and use of innovation technology for the manufacturing space equipment.
The Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), which was officially launched in 1993, is a Russian counterpart to the US Global Positioning System (GPS). It provides data for real-time positioning and speed of surface, sea and air objects to within an accuracy of one meter.
The GLONASS program was initiated in the 1970s but underwent a radical revamp in 2001. The 24 satellites comprising the system had been put into orbit by 2010, though only after several costly malfunctions and launch failures by carrier rockets. The program has cost 140 billion rubles ($4.4 billion) to implement to date, and its budget for 2012-2020 stands at a further 326 billion rubles ($10 billion).