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Russian Ex-Defense Official Found Guilty In Property Fraud Case

Former Russian Defense Ministry official, Yevgenia Vasilyeva

MOSCOW -- A court in Moscow has found a former Defense Ministry official guilty of embezzlement in a multimillion-dollar corruption scandal that led to the ouster of her boss in 2012.

The ruling came as the judge read out the verdict in the trial of Yevgenia Vasilyeva, a one-time subordinate of former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, with whom she was allegedly romantically linked.

The judge said Vasilyeva had committed the crime "by deceiving and abusing the trust of" Serdyukov.

The high-profile case revolves round allegations that a state-run military contractor, Oboronservis, sold off Defense Ministry property under market value to well-connected insiders at a cost to the state of 3 billion rubles ($60 million).

Vasilyeva, who headed the Defense Ministry's property relations department, faces a total of 12 counts, including charges of large-scale fraud, abuse of office, and money laundering.

Four other co-defendants were also found guilty of embezzlement.

Vasilyeva has been under house arrest since November 2012. She has pleaded not guilty.

Serdyukov was never charged in the case.

His relationship with Vasilyeva was a matter of speculation after reports that he was present when she was arrested during a raid on her Moscow apartment.

The reading of the verdict could take days, at the end of which the court will hand down sentences.

Prosecutors have asked Judge Tatyana Vasyuchenko to give Vasilyeva an eight-year suspended sentence and order her to pay damages of 800 million rubles ($16 million).

Prosecutors said that real estate, cash, and valuables confiscated from Vasilyeva will be enough to repay this debt to the state.

The prosecution also asked the court to give suspended sentences of between four and six years to Vasilyeva's four co-defendants.

It is very likely that Vasilyeva and her co-defendants will avoid imprisonment as it is very rare in Russia for judges to hand down sentences harsher than those demanded by prosecutors.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax