Russia: A major space industry contractor stole 6.5 billion rubles (USD 200 million) in federal funds earmarked for the troubled Glonass satellite navigation system, Moscow police said.
Managers at Russian Space Systems used various schemes, including fly-by-night companies, to embezzle money meant for maintaining and upgrading Glonass, Russia”s GPS-like network, police said in a statement from the briefing.
The sum is three times the size of an estimate offered, which was itself several times larger than a figure announced in June, when police first announced an investigation into the firm.
The growing scandal is the latest to hit Glonass, which has suffered years of technical glitches and delays. RIA-Novosti reported that Glonass’ general director, Yury Urlichich, had been relieved of his duties.
A spokesman for Russian Space Systems said police misreported the size of the alleged theft and questioned the credibility of Igor Bozhkov, a former Interior Ministry official who, with Moscow police chief Anatoly Yakunin and an aide to Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, held the briefing where the figures were announced.
“Soon traffic police officers are going to be giving commentary on Russian Space Systems and Glonass. The lower the rank of the commentator, the scarier the sum will be,” the spokesman said.
Source: The Moscow Times