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Pair Stole Nearly $1 Million From Skolkovo

Russia's premier technology hub became the site of the nation's latest high-level corruption scandal on Tuesday after investigators accused two officials of using a fraudulent tender to make off with 23.8 million rubles ($789,000), the Investigative Committee said in an online statement.

Kirill Lugovstev, financial director of the Skolkovo Fund, which supports the hub, and Vladimir Khokhlov, head of a daughter company that handled customs and finance, and others arranged for a crooked contract to be awarded to a company owned by Lugovstev's parents, investigators said.

Under the contract, which stipulated three years' advanced payments and forbid refunds, the finance company agreed to lease office space from Lugovstev's family business. But Khokhlov and Lugovtsev instead used the money to renovate the building, investigators said.

In a statement, the Skolkovo Fund said possible misdeeds at its daughter company were discovered during an internal audit and passed on to investigators in the fall. Also, Lugovstev was placed on leave pending a check and the money advanced was returned.

Premeditated theft by a group of individuals is punishable by a fine of up to 300,000 rubles and as many as five years in prison.

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