Sochi corruption alleged to be US$ 30 billion

By Chris Sleight31 May 2013

Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.

Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.

Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov has alleged that corruption among officials and businesses working on the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics has added US$ 30 billion to the cost of constructing venues and infrastructure. He said the original budget of US$ 12 billion has rocketed to US$ 50 billion, making the games the most expensive Winter or Summer Olympics ever.

The allegations were made in a new report, Winter Olympics in the subtropics, written by Mr Nemtsov and Leonid Martynyuk, a member of the Russian liberal Solidarity movement. Among the examples they cite is that of the 40,000-seater Fisht Olympic Stadium, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies. The initial budget for this was RUR 7.5 billion (US$ 240 million), but the authors say this has now escalated to RYR 23.6 billion (US$ 760 million).

This gives it a cost per seat of US$ 19,000, whereas Mr Nemtsov and Mr Martynyuk say the average for Olympic venues from 1998 – 2012 was only US$ 6,000 per seat. Overall they say the cost of venues and supporting infrastructure at Sochi is two to three times higher than previous comparable events, which they put down to corruption.

“The overall scale of theft is about US$ 25 billion to US$ 30 billion, or 50-60% of the declared value of the final Olympics. And this is at a minimum… What is interesting: not a single criminal case of fraud, embezzlement, bribery and kickbacks at the Olympics did not come to court,” said the report.

The Russian government has not commented on the report's findings.

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