Olympics: Sochi contractor arrested for '$2.04 mn fraud'

Olympics: Sochi contractor arrested for '$2.04 mn fraud'

MOSCOW - Russia has arrested the head of an engineering company after he allegedly stole US$1.6 million (S$2.04 million) from the construction budget for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, officials said Tuesday. 

Moscow's Tverskoy District court ordered the arrest of Viktor Matveyev over suspicions that he defrauded Olympstroi, Russia's state company overseeing construction works, Russia's interior ministry said.

Matveyev's engineering company Tekhnoprom was tasked with "developing the general scheme of Olympic object construction organisation," and showed "fictitious documents showing work completion," for which the company was paid 54 million rubles (S$2.04 million).

He then "stole the money", and was rushed to a cardiological centre when police wanted to question him. Three days later he "left the facility to escape criminal justice" however, according to the ministry statement.

On Saturday police detained the suspect when he was trying to leave Russia, it said. Matveyev is now expecting to be charged for fraud, it said.

Tekhnoprom is one of the major engineering contractors of the Olympstroi state company in the future Olympic city and was one of the authors of the "green standards" which organisers have said will "save the region's unique nature" despite the vast development.

Russia is investing about US$50 billion in Sochi, a southern Black Sea resort where the country is hosting the Olympic Games in February.

The Games, a project personally endorsed by President Vladimir Putin, have been criticised for its massive overspending, rights violations, and environmental degradation of the city's surrounding wilderness.

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