Friday, April 19, 2013

Skolkovo Office Searched in Corruption Probe

The downtown office of the Skolkovo Foundation was searched Thursday as part of an ongoing corruption scandal involving two former executives whom the Investigative Committee accused of using a fraudulent tender to steal 23.8 million rubles ($789,000). A spokesman for Skolkovo — Russia's high profile project to diversify its oil-dependent economy through high-tech investments— told Interfax that representatives of the Federal Security Service arrived at the office Thursday morning, asked all staff members to surrender their mobile phones and began questioning several senior managers. The foundation's president and billionaire businessman Viktor Vekselberg was personally presented with the search warrant and was then questioned by investigators. The Skolkovo Foundation, a brainchild of then-President Dmitry Medvedev, was established in 2012 to create a scientific and technological center in Moscow for the development and commercialization of advanced technologies. The day after the search, new Skolkovo-related investigation was made public. Investigators accused another senior manager of the Skolkovo Foundation of embezzling $750,000 in state funds and paying the money to an opposition lawmaker who supported last year’s anti-Kremlin protests. The criminal case, the latest of several targeting Skolkovo executives, has been opened against the foundation’s vice president, Alexei Beltyukov, on the suspicion that he gave the large sum of foundation money to State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomaryov between February 2011 and February 2012, allegedly for a series of lectures and research projects, the Russian Investigative Committee said in a statement.

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