Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Russian Space Industry Suffers from Another Scandal as Three Officials Detained for Fraud

Deputy Director General of RKK Energia, Aleksey Beloborodov. Photo Credit: RIA Novosti

The Investigative Committee of Russia (ICR) informed on Sunday, August 19, that three top executives of the state-run rocket manufacturer RKK Energia, have been detained for fraud. This is yet another scandal in the Russian space industry in recent years.

ICR is currently investigating the case of corruption in Russian space companies. The committee suspects several employees of RKK Energia of bribe-taking and arrested the Deputy Director General of RKK Energia, Aleksey Beloborodov, together with his two subordinates on alleged fraud.

"Energia's deputy director Alexei Beloborodov and two of his subordinates were arrested and charged with attempted fraud," ICR said in a statement.

The suspects whose names were not disclosed in this statement are Oleg Pylnov and Ilya Shenderey – specialists of RKK Energia’s Department of Control and Auditing Activities. Crime Russia reports that they were detained as a result of a sting operation during which marked bills worth tens of thousands of dollars have been transferred to them.

The trio has been charged with attempted swindling as part of an organized group or on especially large scale.

The detainment of RKK Energia’s executives comes just month after Sergey Lemeshevsky, the Director General of NPO Lavochkin was arrested. NPO Lavochkin is a state-owned company manufacturing spacecraft and rocket upper stages. Lemeshevsky was accused of embezzling the funds (around $4.8 million) of Roscosmos.

Earlier this year, in February, Yury Khrizman, the former head of Dalspetsstroy, a major state contractor responsible for the construction of Vostochny Cosmodrome has been sentenced to jail for mass corruption. Khrizman, along with several other ex-employees, was found guilty of wrongdoing during the construction of the spaceport. The investigation estimated the damage to Roscosmos at about $91.6 million.

The three described cases are the latest addition to the long list of scandals and launch failures baffling the Russian space industry in recent years. This seem to prove that corruption in Roscosmos and other state-run aerospace companies is not incidental but may be organized and on a mass scale.

The measures undertaken by the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the government indicate that the problem is serious and that the industry needs an in-depth restructurization. In July 2015, Roscomos was transitioned from the federal space agency to the state-run corporation. The move was made mainly in order to improve the management system in the space sector and to maximize the production potential of the space industry.

More lately, in late May 2018, Putin appointed Dmitry Rogozin as the head of Roscosmos. Rogozin is perceived as Putin’s right-hand man thus this decision suggests how much important is the fate of space program for the Russian president.

What is noteworthy, Rogozin’s appointment marked the fourth change in leadership for Roscosmos within the last decade.

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