Court: Former Russian official admits World Cup corruption

FILE - In this file photo dated Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, a security man stands guard at the soccer stadium on Krestovsky Island which will host some 2018 World Cup matches, under construction in St.Petersburg, Russia.  A court in St. Petersburg said Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017, a former deputy governor of St. Petersburg, Marat Oganesya, has admitted a fraud charge related to the construction of the city’s 2018 World Cup stadium. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, FILE)

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) A Russian court said Wednesday that a former deputy governor of St. Petersburg has admitted a fraud charge related to the construction of the city’s 2018 World Cup stadium.

The St. Petersburg city court said that Marat Oganesyan, who was deputy governor from 2013 until 2015, admitted helping to arrange the fraudulent payment of 50.4 million rubles ($850,000) for a display screen contract at the stadium.

Oganesyan was accused of arranging for a friendly subcontractor to win the contract, while knowing the subcontractor had no intention of using that payment to provide the screens.

Investigators said Wednesday 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 Investigative Committee said in a statement.

Proceedings are continuing against Oganesyan and other people connected to the subcontractor, investigators added.

The 69,000-seat stadium, which will host a semifinal at next year’s World Cup, was plagued by cost overruns and delays before opening this year. It took almost a decade to build, with progress so slow at one point that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev branded the project ”disgraceful.”

There have been a string of financial scandals, with city officials saying last year that millions of dollars could be unaccounted for. The stadium also saw several workers die during construction.

Since it opened, there have been further problems with a leaking roof and a field which has frequently needed to be replaced.

Also Wednesday, PSO Kazan, a company overseeing the construction of a World Cup stadium in Samara, criticized the behavior of a subcontractor in comments reported by the R-Sport news agency. PSO Kazan accused the subcontracting firm of receiving 2.6 billion rubles ($44 million) in payments, but only doing a fraction of the work before declaring bankruptcy.

PSO Kazan said the matter had caused delays, but that construction would be finished in December.