MOSCOW (Reuters) - Tycoon Alexander Lebedev has proposed his newborn son to replace him on the board at Aeroflot (AFLT.MM: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) in a tongue-in-cheek attempt to highlight what he says is continued weak corporate governance at Russia's state-run corporations.
Lebedev, an outspoken former KGB spy who made his fortune in banking, told the Reuters Russia Investment Summit this week he believes corrupt officials and state executives have pocketed $500 billion in bribes over the last few years.
The situation is not improving, he said, as the state has failed to implement a mechanism to control its bureaucrats and executives.
"Can I put my three-month-old son, Nikita, on Aeroflot's board in place of myself?" said Lebedev, who owns 30 percent of state-run Aeroflot, Russia's national flag carrier.
"Guys, you don't need me. Let my son work there. It wouldn't be a problem -- he's a clever guy," Lebedev said, quoting from a letter he sent to Aeroflot's new president, Vitaly Savelyev.
Lebedev, rare among Russian businessmen in daring to criticize the Kremlin, said he was angered by Aeroflot's decision to shun dividend payments while splashing millions of dollars on non-core projects.
The airline has rented an expensive new office in central Moscow and sponsored leading Russian soccer club CSKA Moscow and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.