Russia wasted $4 bn in defence funds in 2012

Moscow, Feb 7 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russia's budget watchdog has found nearly $4 billion was lost in financial violations in the country's defence spending for 2012.

The Russian Audit Chamber identified waste and misappropriation totalling almost 117.5 billion rubles -- just over $3.9 billion -- in the area of national defence, said Viktor Zavarzin, first deputy head of the State Duma's Defense Committee.

This was disclosed after a meeting attended by officials from the defence and finance ministries, the Prosecutor General's Office and other agencies.

The defence ministry has been plagued by corruption scandals over the past year.

Former minister Anatoly Serdyukov was sacked in November 2012 amid a $130 million fraud investigation into the sale of ministry property.

And last month, Russian police said they had uncovered the embezzlement of some $17 million by the country's Strategic Missile Forces dating back to 2008.

A significant portion of the 2012 violations, estimated at nearly 70.4 billion rubles (about $2.3 billion), had to do with over-spending on state contracts despite established thresholds, Zavarzin said.

He added that "unauthorised and ineffective expenditure of budget funds equalled, respectively, 10.6 million rubles and 23,173,000 rubles", and that 114 million rubles had been reimbursed to the government.

Defense Committee member Alexander Tarnayev blamed part of this misspending on outsourcing for services like food and laundry.

He suggested that one way to save money "when forming the federal budget for 2013 and the 2014-2015 planning period" would be to monitor state contracts more closely to ensure contractors and sub-contractors are not over-charging.

Tarnayev cited 2012 spending on food for servicemen as an example.

He said the difference between the total contracts signed by the defence ministry with the Voyentorg company, meant to provide this service, and the contracts signed by Voyentorg with its relevant sub-contractors may be as high as 672.7 million rubles, or over $22 million, based on the Audit Chamber's findings.

--IANS/RIA Novosti

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