Contractor flees Russia after refusing to pay Olympic bribes

LONDON -- They’ve been painting the Olympic rings on the new roads built around Sochi. They may as well have been dollar signs for what they cost: just shy of $9 billion. It's become a local joke that the roads would have been cheaper if they'd been paved with caviar.

Valery Morozov CBS News
 Olympic spending records have also been set for the new venues along the coast and up in the mountains outside of Sochi. A new report by a Russian anti-corruption group says the total cost for the games has soared to about $50 billion -- more than five times as much as the last winter games.

Yet the best place to discover why costs have risen so high may not be among the gleaming new venues, but on a street in a town just outside London, where Valery Morozov, once an Olympic contractor -- now a fugitive -- lives.

He's fled Russia for fear of his life, he told CBS News, because he couldn’t stand the corruption anymore.

"I was informed that there is a contract on my assassination," he said. Not because he knew too much and could finger other people, but because, he said, "They miscalculated me."

 Miscalculated, he said, because the local Olympic organizers told him to add about $30 million to his bill for various Sochi construction projects, and then pay that money back to them as kickbacks.

"The only one reason for this was their pockets," Morozov said. "There was only one reason."

Morozov rebuilt some of the crumbling facilities of the old Sochi resort. The kickbacks, he said, followed a familiar formula. The kickback was about 40 percent of the total contract.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said those who claim there's corruption should prove it. But with a suspect bidding process, little public accountability and the corruption running to high places, Valery Morozov said there is no incentive to investigate -- and nothing but trouble for anyone who tries.

  • Mark Phillips
    Mark Phillips

    Mark Phillips is CBS News senior foreign correspondent, based in London.