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Russian Space Contractor Arrested in $5.2M Embezzlement Case

NPO Lavochkin (Sergei Fadeichev / TASS)

The head of a key Russian space contractor has been arrested on charges of large-scale fraud in a 330 million ruble ($5.2 million) embezzlement case, days after the arrest of a space researcher suspected of leaking hypersonic missile technology to the West.

Sergei Lemeshevsky headed the Lavochkin Association, a contractor that develops military satellites and deep-space scientific probes for the Roscosmos federal space agency, since mid-2015. Roscosmos has been accused of repeated financial impropriety in recent years, with a federal auditor finding more than $12 billion in spending violations at the agency in 2017.

Lemeshevsky was arrested in the embezzlement case based on “compelling evidence” that he had conspired to funnel millions of rubles from Roscosmos to a law firm for fictitious services, the Investigative Committee said Thursday.

One of his assistants was also arrested, while another was put on a federal wanted list for hiding from the authorities, investigators said.

Reports about Lemeshevsky’s arrest were followed by news that a scientist at a research lab linked to Roscosmos had been charged with treason after a suspected leak of hypersonic missile secrets to the West.

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