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Vostochny Cosmodrome subcontractor sentenced to 11 years in prison for embezzling nearly a billion rubles

Source: Interfax

A court in Blagoveshchensk in Russia’s Amur region has sentenced Dmitry Vishnevsky, the former CEO of the company “USIO,” to 11 years in prison for embezzling almost 1 billion rubles ($15.6 million) from government funding allocated to the construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

Prosecutors say USIO received roughly twice that amount of money from the state corporation “Dalspetsstroy” between 2012 and 2014 to build the cosmodrome’s external power supply. Vishnevsky allegedly redirected about half these funds to third-party organizations, stealing 660 million rubles ($10.3 million) under one contract and about 320 million rubles ($5 million) under another.

The Vostochny Cosmodrome has been under construction in Russia’s Amur region since 2012, during which time the Attorney General’s Office has identified more than 17,000 building-code violations and opened more than 140 criminal investigations.

Currently, 14 of the cosmodrome’s 19 facilities have been built. So far, the federal government has spent a total of 91 billion rubles ($1.4 billion) on the project. The Kremlin estimates that 11 billion rubles have been embezzled, while officials have managed to recover only 3.5 billion rubles of this stolen money. 

On November 11, President Vladimir Putin complained at a cabinet meeting that theft continues to plague the Vostochny Cosmodrome project, despite hundreds of felony prosecutions. “It’s been said a hundred times: work transparently! Big money is being allocated… But no, they’re stealing hundreds of millions [of rubles]! Hundreds of millions!” Putin said.