MOSCOW, August 23 (RIA Novosti) – A senior Skolkovo manager accused of embezzling money allocated for developing the innovation center has been cleared of all charges and reinstated to the team, a Skolkovo Foundation spokesman said this week.
The Investigative Committee closed the case against Vladimir Khokhlov, head of the foundation’s subsidiary Skolkovo Innovation Center customs finance company, on July 19, spokesman Alexander Chernov said Thursday.
“All charges against him [Khokhlov] have been dropped. Vladimir Khokhlov was reinstated the same day,” the spokesman said, adding that the official will have the right to seek compensation for moral damages caused by the criminal proceedings against him.
Khokhlov and former Skolkovo senior manager Kirill Lugovtsev had been accused of involvement in the embezzlement of 24 million rubles (about $730,000) from federal budget funds.
A criminal investigation was launched in mid-February after an internal audit at Skolkovo. Investigators suspected the managers of using Skolkovo money to rent a building for the foundation’s subsidiary from a company owned by Lugovtsev’s parents.
The rental contract stipulated a three-year non-refundable advance payment. Khokhlov and Lugovtsev had also agreed to pay for the building’s extensive renovation, investigators said in February.
The court has found that the contract with the company was in line with the law and that the company’s actions were “honest and reasonable,” Chernov said. No proof that Skolkovo had suffered losses as a result of the deal was found, he said.
The case against Lugovtsev has been reclassified from embezzlement to abuse of office, the spokesman said. The sum of damage caused is now estimated at 9.39 million rubles ($285,000), not at 24 million rubles, as earlier reported, he added.
The Skolkovo hub, a pet project of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev opened in 2010 during his presidency, is often labeled Russia’s “Silicon Valley” and was intended to lead the country’s drive to diversify and modernize its economy and increase the output of high-tech products.
The foundation has come under the scrutiny of investigators more than once recently, with several senior officials being accused of corruption.