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RUSSIA: Energomash Says It Was Asked for $10M Bribe

by Anatoly MedetskyMoscow Times
September 28th, 2007

Engineering company NPO Energomash, which makes rocket engines for U.S. firm Lockheed Martin, said Thursday that it was approached for a 7 million euro ($9.9 million) bribe to reinstate its export license.

Energomash's export license was frozen in May for four months following an Audit Chamber investigation. Shortly afterward, a lawyer approached the company with a proposal to overturn the freeze in exchange for the bribe, company spokesman Yury Korotkov said.

Energomash has a contract to supply Lockheed Martin with $500 million worth of RD-180 engines, which the U.S. aerospace manufacturer uses to power the booster stage of its Atlas III and Atlas V rockets.

Energomash has so far shipped 36 engines out of 50 engines provided for by the contract, said Artur Belyustov, an aide to Energomash's company director.

Korotkov said the company missed delivery deadlines after suspension of its export license.

Lockheed Martin spokesman Scott Lusk could not immediately confirm Thursday whether the company had experienced any delays in engine shipments.

Energomash's statement comes after the arrest this month of Defense Ministry officer Yury Gaidukov on suspicion of extorting the bribe. Gaidukov was in charge of the Audit Chamber inspection into the company earlier this year.

The Audit Chamber on Thursday announced the detention of another linked to the racket, the chief of its legal department Zarina Farniyeva. The chamber also confirmed the arrests of two of Gaidukov's associates -- Nikolai Serykh and Alan Gogichayev -- neither of whom were Audit Chamber employees.

Audit Chamber chief Sergei Stepashin on Thursday vowed to root corruption out of his agency.

"As I have said, the fight against swindlers and bribe-takers, including those in the Audit Chamber, will continue," he said, Interfax reported.

Energomash's account implicated only Serykh, naming him as the lawyer seeking the bribe. The company reported the extortion attempt to the Federal Security Service, Korotkov said. It also asked the government and President Vladimir Putin to look into the license suspension, Korotkov added.

Following an investigation by a Kremlin supervisory department and the Security Council, Putin issued an order to unfreeze Energomash's export permit, Korotkov said.

The group behind the bribery racket was arrested Sept. 6 after taking an installment of 1 million euros in marked bills, the Audit Chamber said in a statement.

A Federal Security Service spokesman could not offer immediate comment.

The Federal Security Service has arrested another senior Audit Chamber official and a regional official from Vladivostok on suspicion of bribery, the chamber said Thursday, Reuters reported.

Audit Chamber chief inspector Sergei Klimantov and Sergei Dubovitsky, first deputy mayor of Vladivostok, were suspected of extorting a bribe from a commercial company.




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