Russian prosecutor accuses Skolkovo Foundation of misusing state funds

Hub set up to promote economic modernisation

Former minister Conor Lenihan is the Skolkovo Foundation’s vice president. He declined to comment.

Former minister Conor Lenihan is the Skolkovo Foundation’s vice president. He declined to comment.


Executives at the Skolkovo Foundation faced renewed controversy yesterday after Russian authorities criticised the high-tech hub in Moscow for misusing state funds.

Founded in 2009, Skolkovo was a pet project of then Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and the centrepiece of his campaign to promote economic modernisation.

Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg heads the Skolkovo Foundation. Former minister Conor Lenihan is the foundation’s vice-president.

More than $1.6 billion (€1.16 billion) of budget funds have been invested in the hub that had been billed as Russia’s answer to Silicon Valley.

Much of the money has been wasted, according to a four-page statement issued by the Russian prosecutor’s office yesterday.

‘Gross mismanagement’
The statement placed responsibility for “gross” financial mismanagement at Skolkovo squarely in the lap of the project’s top management.

“The lack of necessary control on the part of the leadership of the Skolkovo Fund has allowed the uncontrolled and extravagant use of funds to the damage of state interests,” it said.

The project has fallen under a cloud since police raided the foundation’s offices in Moscow this year as part of an investigation into alleged embezzlement.

Some observers say the Skolkovo project is caught in the political crossfire between warring Russian officials and interest groups.

A Skolkovo spokesman contacted by The Irish Times yesterday declined to comment on the prosecutor’s statement.

Mr Lenihan, who was appointed by Mr Vekselberg as vice-president of the Skolkovo Foundation to help draw foreign investors into the project, said he was not in Russia at present and said he had heard nothing about the development. He later declined to comment.