New Suspect Detained in Oboronservis Case

June 21, 2013
Oboronservis. Source: RIA Novosti. Andrei Stenin

A new suspect has been detained in the criminal case concerning the embezzlement of several billion rubles from the Ministry of Defense through Oboronservis, a holding company. The Russian Interior Ministry reported the detention on its web site on 20 June.

The name of the suspect was not given; however, it was reported that in February 2012, she headed Mira LLC (Ekspert, the former legal support center). According to press information, this post was held by Dinara Bilyalova. Dmitry Mityayev, the head of the Mira LLC legal service, confirmed in an interview that  Bilyalova was in fact his immediate supervisor.

According to the investigation, the embezzled funds were deposited in the account of this firm under the guise of payments for agency services, and were thus legalized.

The Oboronservis case was opened in the fall of 2012. According to the investigation, real estate and land owned by the Ministry of Defense was sold off at reduced prices through a holding company created to hide the officers’ economic activity. The appraisals were made by the Ekspert Center, which at that time was headed by Yekaterina Smetanova. Along with Smetanova, her husband Maksim Zakutaylo and a former classmate Yevgeniya Vasilyeva also became suspects. Vasilyeva worked for a time at the Defense Ministry, and was said to be close to then-Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov (who was fired in the fall of 2012).

Zakutaylo is under arrest. Smetanova at first was also first arrested, but was released on a pledge not to leave town. Vasilyeva is under house arrest.

In early June, two new suspects were arrested in the Oboronservis case – Valery Sedov, former general director of the Defense Ministry’s St. Petersburg engineering and technical center, and Irina Petukhova, the chief bookkeeper of the same center.

Along the way, a number of other cases were opened regarding embezzlement at the Defense Ministry. Dmitry Mityayev, the lawyer for Mira LTC, was among them.

Sergei Khursevich, Oboronservis’ general director, was dismissed in May 2013. On 20 June, the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office announced that upon inspection, a large number of debts were discovered in the organization totaling more than 100 billion rubles.