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Suspect Arrested in $1.65M Hermitage Museum Embezzlement

Published: January 15, 2014 (Issue # 1793)



  • The management of the Hermitage Museum denied any involvement in the embezzlement of funds for its renovations.
    Photo: George Shuklin

Police have arrested a Moscow businessman accused of helping to embezzle over 55 million rubles ($1.65 million) during the renovation of Russia’s most famous museum, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday.

Arkady Akhmechet has been charged with large-scale fraud, according to a statement posted on the ministry’s website. The crime is punishable by up to 10 years in prison under Russian law.

Police said Akhmechet oversaw financial operations at construction firms that stole money after being contracted to restore buildings belonging to the Hermitage Museum Complex between 2010 and 2013.

Akhmechet is the second suspect named by police in the embezzlement scheme, uncovered by Russia’s Audit Chamber in July.

The Interior Ministry said Lenoid Tamarov, the director of a contracting firm involved in the restoration, fled Russia after the start of police investigations but died in Israel in September under unclear circumstances.

Russia is working with Interpol to establish the context of Tamarov’s death, the ministry statement said.

An investigation into the embezzlement scheme was opened in September after Russia’s Audit Chamber said it had found violations in a contract worth 6.2 billion rubles ($190 million) to reconstruct the General Staff building in the Hermitage complex.

Police said the contractors, who agreed to construct glass ceilings over five courtyards on the complex grounds and equip them with anti-icing and snow removal systems, stole money by creating so-called double contracts that falsely billed money from firms that did not actually perform the work.

The management of the Hermitage Museum denied any involvement, saying it was only a client and was not involved in any financial aspect of the renovation.

Police said in September that a group of individuals were under investigation for their involvement in the case, though they have not yet publicly identified any additional suspects.

See also:

Costs Swell to $450M For Hermitage Museum Annex

Hermitage Makes Room for Manifesta





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Oct. 20


Amateur pictures from World War I are on display for only one more day at Rosphoto’s exhibition “On Both Sides,” chronicling the conflict through the eyes of observers on both sides of the trenches. The price of entrance to the exhibition is 100 rubles ($2.50).



Tuesday, Oct. 21


The Environment, Health and Safety Committee of AmCham convenes this morning at 9 a.m. in the organization’s office.


Take the chance to pick the brains of Dmitry V. Krivenok, the deputy director of the Economic Development Agency of the Leningrad region, and Mikhail D. Sergeev, the head of the Investment Projects Department, during the meeting with them this morning hosted by SPIBA. RSVP for the event by emailing office@spiba.ru before Oct. 17 if you wish to attend.


Improve your English at Interactive English, the British Book Center’s series of lessons on vocabulary and grammar in an informal atmosphere. Starting at 6 p.m., each month draws attention to different topics in English, with the topic for this month’s lessons being “visual arts.”



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