A Russian company contracted to provide visa support to Russian athletes for the Vancouver Olympics stole $629,000© Photo Aleksei Filippov
MOSCOW, September 10 (RIA Novosti)
A Russian company contracted by the state to provide visa support to Russian athletes for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics stole and laundered $629,000, investigators told RIA Novosti on Monday.
A probe was ordered into the suspected misspending of government funds to prepare the athletes by then-President Dmitry Medvedev immediately after the Games, where Russia turned in its worst performance in history.
The investigation into the disappearance of over $7 million was shut down due to a lack of evidence, but during that probe officials uncovered a fraud scheme operated by the Europroject company, said Vladimir Markin, an Investigative Committee spokesman.
The owner Dmitry Artyukhovsky and the head of the firm Valery Uskov are accused of collaborating with two men from another company, named as Artem Yefimtsev and Andrei Kiselyov, in stealing the funds.
"In 2009 and 2010 they created what appeared to be services for issuing visa documents to athletes of the Russian teams, and also to provide information technology support at sports events," Markin said.
"In this way they stole more than 20 million rubles, having presented the state contracting authority ... with obviously fraudulent documents that the work had been completed," Markin said.
Markin said the four have been charged with large-scale fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.
It was unclear if the men denied the charges; efforts to contact them were unsuccessful.
A host of sports officials stepped down over Russia's performance in Vancouver, with three gold and 15 total medals seen as a national disgrace.
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