Investigators opened a new criminal case against an influential town mayor Tuesday as they ratcheted up corruption investigations in the Moscow region.
Alexander Morozenko, the mayor of Korolyov, home of the country’s cosmonaut training center, is being investigated on suspicion of misusing nearly 19.4 million rubles ($674,540) from the municipal budget, the Investigative Committee said in a statement.
The committee said Morozenko’s suspected embezzlement violated the rights of local residents entitled to receive apartments free of charge from municipal authorities.
Morozenko, who faces five years in prison if charged and convicted of embezzlement, was suspended as mayor last month, RIA-Novosti reported Tuesday.
The case is the second against Morozenko, who was first targeted by the Investigative Committee in May for purportedly stonewalling inquiries by the Audit Chamber, the presidential budgetary watchdog. A conviction for snubbing auditors carries a maximum punishment of three years in prison.
Morozenko, 62, was elected mayor in 1996 and was serving his fourth term when he was suspended.
The Investigative Committee, meanwhile, has charged two Moscow region officials with embezzling more than 3 billion rubles ($105 million) from the regional budget in a scheme purportedly masterminded by the region’s former top financial official, Alexei Kuznetsov, Kommersant reported Tuesday.
Vladislav Telepnev, former director general of the Moscow Region Investment Trust Company, and Svetlana Shatalina, head of the company’s department dealing with financing state programs, are accused of appropriating funds allocated to pay off utility debts, the report said.
Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Kommersant that Kuznetsov had fled and was suspected of hiding in the United States. He said an international arrest warrant would be issued for Kuznetsov.
The three suspects face up to 10 years in prison is charged and convicted.
A spokeswoman for the Investigative Committee refused to comment on the report Tuesday.
In a separate statement, the Investigative Committee said Tuesday that investigators had searched the offices of the administration of the city of Khimki, located on Moscow’s northern outskirts, on Nov. 2. The search is connected to an investigation into an unidentified administration official and the director of a private firm suspected of attempting to extort 2.2 million rubles ($77,000) from the director of another private firm, the statement said.
Charges of attempted extortion carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.