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  Tuesday, December 10, 2019
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Raids at IBM and two other IT companies' Moscow offices are linked to a probe against the Russian Pension Fund
Raids at IBM and two other IT companies' Moscow offices are linked to a probe against the Russian Pension Fund, which has also experienced searches, the computer technology companies said Thursday. IT providers IBM, R-Style, and Lanit were raided Wednesday as part of a probe into the Pension Fund suspected of purchasing computers and other equipment from the three companies at excessive prices. This is the third investigation launched in a month against agencies overseen by Health and Social Development Minister Mikhail Zurabov. The Interior Ministry or prosecutors have not so far issued official comments on the raids. IBM representative Jonathan Batty said in Moscow Wednesday the company was cooperating with Russian authorities, without providing further details. But a security guard at the building housing the multinational corporation said documents had been seized from IBM offices. Kommersant daily reported computers had also been seized from IBM, and searches had also been conducted in the apartments of Pension Fund officials and the companies' executives. A spokesman for Lanit, a leading Russian IT provider, said law enforcement bodies were after a tender for IT services for the Pension Fund. Konstantin Vasilyev said Lanit had won one of the five lots at the tender, but said "prices for the supplies were of a market level." He said the company was cooperating with investigators and added the checks were a too tough measure, when employees were barred from their working places and were not let out of offices for a long time. R-Style has issued a news release, confirming the raids were after supplies to the Pension Fund in 2005- early 2006, but claimed it had not supplied computers to the fund. Documents were also confiscated from the offices of the head and executive director of the Pension Fund, Gennady Batanov, who heads the fund since March 26, and Pavel Averin. Earlier, corruption and negligence probes were opened against the executives of a state health insurance fund and health and social development agency. On November 17, a Moscow court sanctioned the arrests of Andrei Taranov, the former director of Russia's compulsory health insurance fund, and another six top managers, on suspicion of corruption and bribery. Searches were conducted and documents seized in the insurance fund's central office in Moscow and eight of its regional offices, as well as on the headquarters of partner firms and companies involved in a state-run program to provide free or subsidized medication to low-income population groups. The Prosecutor General's Office said evidence uncovered indicated that the Federal Mandatory Medical Insurance Fund officials had received bribes from the heads of regional branches of the fund and representatives of pharmaceutical and other commercial companies involved in distributing medication and medical equipment. An investigation is under way against Vyacheslav Prokhorov, general director of the Federal Health and Social Development Agency and former Pension Fund head, and his deputy. They are suspected of negligence that caused the loss of 11 million rubles ($420,000) of federal funds.
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