Former St. Petersburg Deputy Governor Admits To World Cup Venue Fraud
The former deputy governor of St. Petersburg, Russia, admitted to his "involvement in a fraud scheme related to the construction of the city’s World Cup stadium," investigators said on Wednesday, according to Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber of REUTERS. Marat Oganesyan, who served as deputy governor from '13-15, was detained last year on "suspicion of orchestrating a fraudulent deal" worth 50.4M rubles that was "meant to provide the venue with a video display screen." Investigators said that Oganesyan admitted guilt as part of a pre-trial agreement. Russia's Investigative Committee said in a statement, "He fully acknowledged his guilt in the act for which he was incriminated, gave exhaustive evidence and took steps to repay the damage caused" (REUTERS, 11/9). The AP reported proceedings are continuing against Oganesyan and "other people connected to the subcontractor," investigators added. The 69,000-seat stadium, which will host a semifinal at next year's World Cup, was "plagued by cost overruns and delays before opening this year." It took almost a decade to build, with "progress so slow" at one point that PM Dmitry Medvedev branded the project "disgraceful." There have been "a string of financial scandals," with city officials saying last year that millions of dollars could be unaccounted for. The stadium "also saw several workers die during construction" (AP, 11/8).