Russian contractors “took” $150m on launch-site contracts

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Russian criminal prosecutors allege that contractors involved in building the country’s new space port at Vostochny embezzled more than $150 million during construction.

The Moscow Times is reporting that some 17,000 criminal violations occurred at the cosmodrome since work commenced in 2015 and the total tops 10 billion Rubles in damages and theft from the site, and significantly up on the initial 2015 estimates of losses.

The news report says that Russian president Vladimir Putin on a visit to the construction site in 2015 warned contractors that law enforcement agencies were monitoring the use of state funds and that charges would be brought for malpractice.

Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said that a probe of 250 organizations working on the project had discovered “theft that caused 7.5 billion rubles in damages,” RIA Novosti reported.

Alexander Kurennoy, a spokesman for the Prosecutor General’s Office, said in a televised interview Tuesday that some 23.4 million Rubles had been recovered and that 140 criminal cases against around 1000 officials and contractors had been started since 2014.

The Vostochny spaceport is in Russia’s Far East region of Amur Oblast and is designed to replace Baikonur, which is leased from Kazakhstan.  The first launch from the site took place in 2016, and a total of 3 launches have taken place.


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