Russian defence firm chief fired after fraud scandal

Source : IANS
Last Updated: Wed, May 15, 2013 01:50 hrs

Moscow, May 15 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The board of directors of Russia's Oboronservis defence property services company, which has been tainted by a string of fraud scandals, fired its general director, the Russian defence ministry said.

The move came after it was revealed that the military's chief prosecutor, Sergei Fridinsky, wrote to Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu calling for the dismissal of Sergei Khursevich.

Fridinsky made the appeal to Shoigu following allegations that Khursevich interfered with a contract to buy Italian-built Iveco military vehicles in order to avoid paying import duties, a source in the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office said.

The defence ministry confirmed that it received Fridinsky's request, which mentioned "numerous violations committed by the former head of Oboronservis".

The losses to the state "caused by Khursevich's actions" were estimated at 145 million rubles ($4.6 million), the Kommersant newspaper said, citing Fridinsky.

Khursevich's deputy Sergei Shtykulin has been appointed acting head of Oboronservis.

The firm provides a huge range of support services to the Russian military including property maintenance, fuel and power supplies and maintenance.

Oboronservis has been at the centre of a string of high-profile scandals since late last year, when several of its managers were arrested on suspicion of fraud involving the illegal sale of ministry property.

Then defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov resigned shortly after the scandal broke, and was replaced by Shoigu.

The Russian government announced a major crackdown on corruption in the defence sector late last year, with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who has responsibility for the industry, saying in November a "clean-out is inevitable".

--IANS/RIA Novosti

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