Marat Oganesyan, a former deputy governor of St. Petersburg, has admitted to a fraud charge related to the construction of the Russian city’s stadium for the Fifa World Cup national team football tournament.
According to the Associated Press news agency, St. Petersburg city court said Oganesyan, admitted to helping to arrange a fraudulent payment of 50.4m rubles (€732,500/$849,700/£646,700) for a display screen contract at Zenit Arena.
Oganesyan, who served in his deputy governor role from 2013 to 2015, was accused of arranging for a friendly subcontractor to win the contract, while at the same time being fully aware that the subcontractor had no intention of using the money to provide the screens.
In a statement released yesterday (Wednesday), the Investigative Committee working on the case said that Oganesyan admitted his involvement as part a pre-trial deal.
“He completely admitted his guilt in the acts in which he was incriminated, gave exhaustive evidence about other crimes and took steps to remedy the damage he had caused,” the statement said. However, proceedings against Oganesyan and others connected to the subcontractor continue.
Zenit Arena was plagued by a host of issues and delays throughout construction, but eventually staged its first football match in April of this year.
However, work has been ongoing at the venue to ensure that it is up to standard ahead of it staging matches at Fifa’s showpiece tournament next year. Players who have featured at games at the stadium had complained about the quality of the playing surface and the pitch has had to be replaced several times as a result.
The stadium is scheduled to host a series of group games as well as a round of 16 match, one semi-final and the third-place play-off. The venue is also currently home to Russian Premier League side Zenit St. Petersburg and was used to stage games during this year’s Fifa Confederations Cup national team contest.