Sergei Fedotov, head of the Russian author’s rights collecting society RAO, has been arrested on suspicion of fraud. Russian news service RIA Novosti said that Fedotov has been accused of funnelling assets worth of over ₽500 million rubles ($7.7 million) out of the organisation.
RAO’s office and Fedotov’s home were searched by police on June 27th after which Fedotov was brought in for questioning. On June 28, The Tagansky court in Moscow sanctioned Fedotov’s arrest, rejecting his lawyer’s plea for bail.
RAO issued a statement saying: “RAO’s general director Sergei Fedotov and the organization’s other employees are fully cooperating with the investigation, helping it to find out the truth” adding “We are sure that a qualified investigation will lead to establishing no wrongdoing in Sergei Fedotov’s action.”
The move comes AFTER rumours of corruption involving real estate surfaced in the wake of the 2015 announcement that RAO would merge with two other collecting societies, VOIS, which deals with neighbouring rights, and RSP, which collects a one-percent tax on imports of electronic devices that can be used for copying content. That merger was seemingly supported by the country’s communications ministry but VOIS objected. This time Nikolai Nikiforov, the communications minister, was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying that Fedotov’s arrest is not linked to plans to reform the royalty collection system in Russia (which differ from RAO’s own plans). In 2015 VOIS asked the Russian Ministry of Culture to investigate the planned merger.
In August 2015 unidentified individuals attacked the Deputy Head of RAO, Andrei Krichevsky, hospitalising him.