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25 Aug, 2007 09:30

Corrupt civil servants unmasked in Central Russian town

A jury has found 12 members of the City Council and three businessmen guilty of corruption in the central Russian city of Tver. The court heard the civil servants were bribed to raise the charges on public utilities.

The investigators established that the Tver City councillors colluded with local businessmen in a corruption scheme. The businessmen bribed the deputies to pass decisions in their favour.

In one example, this involved increased tariffs on public utilities. It's estimated that the total amount of the kickbacks was worth as much as $US180,000.

“Fifteen out of the 16 accused were found guilty. 12 of them are local deputies. The jury ruled that the accused formed a criminal gang in the City Council to earn money. The former chairman of the Council was found guilty on all counts, and was considered head of the criminal group. As for the rest of those found guilty, the jury has recommended they be dealt with leniently,” Vitaly Voronin,State Prosecutor, commented.

“That means they cannot get more than two thirds of the maximum sentence. So if the maximum penalty is 8 years in jail the judge cannot give more than 6 years. One of the former deputies was found not guilty due to lack of evidence and was freed,” lawyer Igor Bordovsky explained.

The former Tver Council member Konstantin Turygin was very glad to escape the conviction.

“I am happy! I'm confident I'm innocent,” he said.

Judges will now have to decide on the sentences for the rest. The three businessmen face either a fine, or up to 3 years in jail.

As for the city residents, they will continue to get the higher utility bills.