Ex-Russian Olympic official faces embezzlement charge

Moscow, April 11 (IANS/RIA Novosti) A criminal investigation has been launched into alleged spending violations by the former vice president of Russia’s Olympic Committee, investigators announced.

According to Russia’s Interior Ministry, Akhmed Bilalov allegedly stole more than $97,000 from Northern Caucasus Resorts, a state-run company that manages holiday resorts and promotes tourism in region, and used it for luxury travel abroad for him and his friends.

He allegedly spent $80,000 between July 26 and August 13, 2012, on London hotel fees during last summer’s Olympic Games, and another $28,000 on transportation.

“It’s been established the suspect used the money to unduly offset the cost of business trips,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said Bilalov only spent August 4-8 in London.

The beleaguered Bilalov was removed from the Olympic Committee in February after President Vladimir Putin criticised massive construction delays and cost overruns while he was in charge of Krasnaya Polyana, the firm overseeing the RusSki Gorki Olympic ski jump park. Bilalov has since resigned from Northern Caucasus Resorts.

At least for now, he retains his job as president of the Russian Golf Association.

Bilalov has been under investigation for at least a month. In early March, prosecutors claimed he had appropriated about $2.6 million from the company to charter flights to France and England, as well as a helicopter flight from a hotel to an airport in the United Arab Emirates.

Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office said last month that investigators from the FSB security service, the police and the Rosfinnadzor state audit agency were probing Bilalov.

Bilalov was also fired as chairman of Northern Caucasus Resorts, a state-run which manages holiday resorts in the southern mountain range.

–IANS/RIA Novosti.

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