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26 Jun, 2007 12:16

Russian State Property Fund accused of embezzlement

An investigation is under way into a Russian organisation accused of illegally selling government property. Police say they raided offices of the Russian State Property Fund, as part of an ongoing embezzlement case.

The Fund is supposed to store and protect goods confiscated at customs or by the police. But the Russian Interior Ministry believes it could be involved in serious organised crime. 

“Law enforcement officials conducted a search of the offices of the Russian State Property Fund. This is in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation into the embezzlement of government property,” commented Interior Ministry spokesperson Anastasia Mukhina.

The type of goods the organisation is alleged to have sold on includes hi-tech equipment, computers and cars, which, according to the Interior Ministry, have a value of around $US 20 MLN.

The Russian State Property Fund denies its involvement, saying no searches or arrests had been made.

“This information is being spread by the law enforcement. They should first have absolute proof of wrongdoing before issuing public statements. This is nothing but dirty PR and I am simply shocked,” stated Aleksander Ivanov, spokesman of the Russian State Property Fund.

The case may have just come to light, but the Interior Ministry claims it is part of an earlier embezzlement probe. Two businessmen were arrested in May after being caught with goods belonging to the government. Police say this is linked to the Property Fund – something the state organisation denies.