- Russia opens criminal case over MiG fighters returned by Algeria
- Algerian scandal: swapping MiGs for MiGs
MOSCOW, December 4 (RIA Novosti) – Russian investigators have closed a criminal case against two former top managers of the MiG corporation accused of providing low-quality equipment for MiG-29 fighters that were rejected by Algeria in 2007, Russia's business daily Kommersant said on Tuesday.
Fraud charges were brought against the first deputy director general of the MiG Aircraft Corporation Sergei Tsivilev and his deputy, Oleg Fadeyev, but after a six-year investigation, the statute of limitations period has expired.
Both defendants, who denied all the charges, agreed with the decision to close the case without exoneration, the Kommersant said.
Tsivilev, who left the MIG corporation after the probe had been launched, told the paper that the investigators did not have a case against him from the very beginning.
Investigators, however, insist that both officials deliberately signed contracts with firms that sold old and faulty aviation equipment to the MiG company using forged certificates and tags while charging as if it were new equipment.
Some of the faulty parts were installed on MiG-29 fighter jets sold to Algeria through Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport.
Rosoboronexport signed a $1.3 bln contract to deliver 28 one-seater MiG-29SMT fighters and six two-seater MiG-29UB combat trainers to Algeria in March 2006 as part of an $8 billion military cooperation agreement.
However, after receiving 15 MiG fighters, Algeria refused further deliveries in May 2007. It then froze all payments under contracts with Russia in October 2007, requiring that Moscow first take back the 15 MiG-29s due to their "inferior quality."
Three Russian businessmen involved in the same fraud were convicted by a Moscow court in May, 2012, and were sentenced to prison terms and hefty fines.
A year earlier, Musail Ismailov, the head of the Aviaremsnab company that supplied MiG with faulty parts, was sentenced to two years in prison while serving a 5.5-year sentence for a fraud involving deliveries of inferior quality equipment to the Polish air force.
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The current contract portfolio of Russian arms exporters is worth about $46 billion. Annual exports total $15 billion, and this will ensure uninterrupted deliveries for the next three years, even in the worst-case scenario. The list of the main buyers of Russian weapons is unlikely to change drastically.