St Petersburg official admits to $850k stadium scam

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November 10 – A former deputy governor of St Petersburg has admitted to his involvement in an embezzlement scheme related to the construction of the city’s World Cup stadium.

Marat Oganesyan, who held the position from 2013 to 2015, was detained last year on suspicion of orchestrating a fraudulent deal worth 50.4 million rubles ($850,000) that was meant to provide the venue with a video display screen.

Investigators said that as part of a pre-trial agreement, Oganesyan admitted to helping a subcontractor win the contract even though he knew the subcontractor did not intend to use the money to provide the screens

“He fully acknowledged his guilt in the act for which he was incriminated, gave exhaustive evidence and took steps to repay the damage caused,” the local branch of Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement.

The construction of the St Petersburg stadium, which will host a World Cup semi-final next summer, was plagued with delays and cost issues before opening this year.  It took almost a decade to build, with progress so slow at one point that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev branded the project “disgraceful”.

Several workers have lost their lives during construction while even since opening  there have been further problems with a leaking roof and a  pitch that has frequently needed to be replaced.

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