BARNAUL, October 23 (RAPSI) – An employee at Russia's postal service faces up to 10 years in jail for embezzling $93,000 of state funds to buy non-existent stock, security officials said Wednesday.
The Federal Security Service said in a statement that the woman joined the MMM-2011 pyramid scheme on the advice of a relative and paid the sum over the course of 11 days.
The woman continued to participate in the scheme even after its announced closure in June 2012 and despite not receiving any return on the initial investment, the statement said.
Sergey Mavrodi, a former mathematician and computer programmer, set up MMM, a pioneering Ponzi scheme in Russia in the early 1990s that rapidly gained popularity among thousands of hopeful investors with scant knowledge of private investment.
Investors that joined the scheme early made impressive profits, but those that became involved later lost everything after MMM collapsed.
Mavrodi was arrested in 2003 and was sentenced by a Russian court to four years in jail on fraud-related charges in 2007. He was released the same year as he had already served most of his sentence in pretrial custody.
After leaving prison, Mavrodi re-launched similar schemes, setting up MMM branches in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States and elsewhere, with the stated ambition of "destroying the global financial system."