MOSCOW, September 11 (RAPSI) – The police claim that over 5.4 billion rubles ($79mn) in budget allocations for the construction of the Vostochny space center have been embezzled, Interfax news agency reported on Friday, citing a source familiar with the situation.

“Investigations into several related cases are ongoing in over 20 Russian regions,” the source told Interfax.

The source said that investigators have found that nearly 5.4 billion rubles ($79mn) have been embezzled.

Investigators plan to request in late September that the investigation be extended, as “there are many documents they need to analyze yet,” the source said.

He said the number of suspects has increased. “The investigators have found that not only the top managers but also the staff at Dalspetsstroy, another contracting construction company at the Vostochny launch site in the Amur Region, were involved. One suspect is Ye. Bugai, the former chief accountant at a Dalspetsstroy subsidiary,” the source said.

Last February, the Federal Service of Labor and Employment revealed a failure to distribute over 30.5 million rubles ($464,000) to 1,262 TMK (Pacific Bridge Building Company) employees at the Vostochny Cosmodrome. 

In December 2014, the company was ordered to pay over 61 million rubles ($928,200) of delayed wages to its staff.

Several cases have been opened against former and current TMK managers.

In April, TMK General Director Igor Nesterenko was charged with wage arrears and fraud.

Earlier, Dalspetsstroy terminated its contract with TMK and filed a lawsuit to recover the debt owed.

The construction of the space center in the Primorye Territory on Russia’s Pacific Coast, due to become Russia's main launch site, began in 2012. The facility is to be completed by November 30 and the first manned mission is scheduled for 2018.