Russia Seizes 57,000 Gems From Home of Ex-Defense Official

Russian investigators seized 57,000 diamonds, rubies and emeralds from the home of a former Defense Ministry property department chief charged with 12 counts of fraud, the Investigative Committee said on its website.

Evgeniya Vasilyeva, 34, and two former Defense Ministry officials were arrested late last year and charged in a case involving the sale of 4 billion rubles ($124 million) of property by OAO Oboronservis, a supplier of goods and services to the army.

The jewelry weighed 19 kilograms (42 pounds), “not counting a collection of expensive watches,” the committee said in the statement. The value of the gems and watches was estimated at 126 million rubles ($3.9 million), according to investigators. Vasilyeva, who is under house arrest, faces a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison.

Vasilyeva’s lawyer, Alexander Gofshtein, declined to comment and no one answered the phone at Oboronservis’s listed number in Moscow during normal business hours today.

President Vladimir Putin fired then-Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov in November after the Oboronservis investigation became public. Serdyukov, now a witness in the case, is the most senior official ever fired by Putin over government corruption. Russia is the world’s most corrupt major economy, according to Transparency International.

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