Football: Former Russian official arrested over World Cup $1m stadium fraud

Workers at the Saint-Petersburg Stadium on Oct 3, 2016, during construction works ahead of the World Cup 2018 football tournament.
Workers at the Saint-Petersburg Stadium on Oct 3, 2016, during construction works ahead of the World Cup 2018 football tournament.PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian investigators said on Wednesday that they had detained the former deputy governor of St Petersburg over suspected fraud during the construction of a World Cup venue.

Marat Oganesyan, who was deputy head of his region from 2013 to 2015, stands accused of making an "illegal" deal in 2014 with a construction firm that was supposed to provide the stadium with a video scoreboard.

Russia's Investigative Committee, the country's main federal investigative body, said in a statement that Oganesyan had "organised the transfer of more than 50 million roubles (S$1.08 million) to the firm that were then stolen through shell companies".

Oganesyan "knew beforehand that the company had no intention of spending the funds received on supplying a video scoreboard for the stadium", the investigators said.

Law enforcement officials are currently searching his properties in Moscow and the Moscow region, the committee said.

Another St Petersburg official, Alexander Yanchik, as well as three employees of the construction firm are complicit in the fraud, investigators said.

Construction on the 68,000-seat St Petersburg stadium began in 2007. It is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Work on the stadium has since been marred with delays and scandals that saw its constructor sacked this summer.

The venue, which will host one of the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and be home to the Zenit St Petersburg team, is one of the 12 that will host matches during the tournament.