Police uncovered a scheme in which a criminal group stole 150 apartments meant for veterans and soldiers, causing an estimated 1 billion rubles ($32 million) in damages to the Moscow region and Defense Ministry budget, the Interior Ministry said in a statement Thursday.
The mastermind is believed to be a senior aide to a former armed forces commander, Kommersant reported, citing police.
Valery Daniyelyan, an aide to Alexander Postnikov-Streltsov, former head of the Ground Forces, was detained by the police's anti-corruption unit on Wednesday along with a lawyer and three real estate agents who were also involved in the scheme.
The group began their illegal embezzlement in 2010, police say, when they offered their services in getting apartments to people — mostly former servicemen — who were not entitled to state housing, asking for between 100,000 and 200,000 rubles for each deal.
They forged the documentation required for the housing, police say, sometimes using phony identities to acquire rights to the apartments.
The five suspects each face up to 10 years in prison on charges of large-scale fraud.