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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prosecutors Say MiGs Sold for $5

Nizhny Novgorod region prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into the sale of four MiG-31 supersonic long-range fighter jets to a shell company for $5 apiece, the Prosecutor General’s Office said Thursday in a statement on its web site.

The MiGs — which had been stored at the Nizhny Novgorod’s Sokol aviation plant that produces them — were sold without engines and weapon systems, but even in such a condition they’re each worth at least 116 million rubles ($3.7 million), the statement said.

Investigators from the regional prosecutor’s office and the Federal Security Service established that between October 2006 and July 2007, unidentified officials from the Volga Federal District branch of the Federal Reserves Agency abused their authority and illegally included the fighters in a list of assets that the agency was selling.

An appraisal valued the MiGs at 153 rubles each, and they were sold in a tender to a shell company, Metalsnab, that had no right to trade in arms or military equipment, the statement said. As a result, the federal budget suffered damages of more than $15 million.

Detectives also said they could not establish the identities of the officials involved in the scheme. Investigators were not able to determine the whereabouts of the MiGs, prosecutors said.

Meanwhile, Sokol’s deputy director for communications, Igor Chernichenko, told The Moscow Times on Thursday that the airframes in question were still safe and sound at the plant.

“They’ve been here for almost 20 years,” he said.

Chernichenko denied that Sokol officials were involved in the fraud scheme described by prosecutors.

Nizhny Novgorod prosecutors had opened a criminal case into massive fraud, the Prosecutor General’s Office said. The charge carries a punishment of up to 10 years in prison.

Sokol is part of the state-owned United Aircraft Corporation.