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Properties Sold in Fraudulent Scheme Returned to Defense Ministry

The Defense Ministry has regained four properties sold off during the embezzlement scheme that led to the dismissal of former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov last year, Kommersant reported Monday.

The properties in question were purchased in 2011 and 2012 by Teorema, a company founded by the deceased Sergei Amelin, Serdyukov's personal friend and the head of major military subcontractor Stroiimpuls.

The 2.7 billion rubles ($83 million) that Teorema spent on the properties was received in loans from Stroiimpuls, which itself received the money from the Defense Ministry as advance payments for construction projects.

After the Defense Ministry announced that it intended to regain the lost properties, the Main Troop Facilities Agency signed an agreement with Stroiimpuls to receive the properties as compensation for the 2.7-billion-ruble loan.

The deal was completed July 5 but had to be approved in court, meaning that the properties officially passed back into the possession of the troop facilities agency last week.

During an audit of the agency's construction contracts begun in March this year, auditors discovered that Stroiimpuls had repeatedly given loans to third persons for the purchase of real estate from the Defense Ministry-affiliated Oboronservis.

Oboronservis was officially tasked with selling off unwanted ministry properties, but investigators allege that officials took advantage of their positions to sell prime real estate at below-market prices in exchange for hefty bribes.

Stroiimpuls received a total of 17.2 billion rubles in advance payments between 2010 and 2012, 10.2 billion rubles of which was not accounted for.

As of Monday, the facilities agency had retrieved more than 1.8 billion rubles from Stroiimpuls and the company had agreed to compensate for an additional 1.5 billion rubles with agreements to future work.

"Acting in cooperation with law enforcement we have managed to solve the most problematic financial issues related to Stroiimpuls," said Timur Ivanov, the newly appointed general director of Oboronstroy, on Sunday.

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