The Russian government has started an investigation into possible high-level corruption cases at the Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya) following reports of ‘ghost workers’.
The investigation was launched after claims were posted on several Russian Telegram channels that a number of people had been receiving salaries from Rosaviatsiya while not performing duties at the agency.
In particular, the posts targeted Igor Moiseenko, the head of State Air Traffic Management Corporation (SATMC), Rosaviatsiya’s arm responsible for navigation services.
According to the documents, Moiseenko provided high-paying jobs to his relatives who did not perform any work but received salaries from the agency. Additionally, key positions at SATMC were occupied by people connected to leading Russian technology corporations, allowing Moiseenko to siphon money through the purchase of new equipment for the agency.
Reportedly, an anonymous complaint detailing Moiseenko’s schemes was delivered to Alexander Neradko, the chief of Rosaviatsiya. Screenshots of the complaint received wide coverage across Russian social media.
According to Russian media, Russia’s Deputy General Prosecutor Anatoly Razinkin asked Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Grigorenko to investigate Moiseenko’s actions. The director of the Cadre department of the Russian Government Alexander Vishnyakov was appointed to head the investigation. Reportedly, the amount of the money Moiseenko siphoned from the agency through fraudulent purchases alone was estimated at 800 million Russian rubles ($9 million as of March 2022), while the total damages are estimated to be in the “billions”.
According to Russian aviation news website Aviation21, which referred to insider information, the situation was reported to Vladimir Putin, and the possibility of replacing Neradko was discussed. The sources also claim that Moiseenko’s schemes were conducted under Neradko’s direct guidance.
Aviation21 also notes that as of March 28, 2022, all information regarding the management and the structure of Rosaviatsiya was scrubbed from the agency’s website.
There has been no official notice or statement regarding the alleged charges, the investigation or the management changes at the Federal Air Transport Agency.
The scandal comes in the aftermath of Western sanctions that heavily impacted upon Russian commercial aviation, resulting in a significant portion of Rosaviatsiya’s workforce being furloughed. Russia responded to the sanctions by closing its airspace to Western airlines, effectively removing the income that Rosaviatsiya generated through collecting overflight fees.
UPDATE 04-01-2022, 10:15 (UTC +3): Correction: The name of the head of SATMC Igor Moiseenko was written incorrectly in the previous version of this article. AeroTime thanks the attentive reader for spotting the mistake.