New York  : London  : Brussels  : Moscow  : Beijing  : Sydney 
 
 
TAGR Sign In
Russian Interior Ministry commences investigation

The Russian Interior Ministry has opened an investigation into the activities of two executives of Slavneft oil company. The probe was announced in mid-May in advance of a privatization tender for almost 20 percent of the state-controlled company. It also came in advance of a company shareholder meeting where a new president was to be elected. Officials from the Interior Ministry's Moscow office stated that Vice President for Sales Yurii Sukhanov and Dmitrii Perevalov, vice president of oil purchases and exports, were suspected of abuse of power related to an investigation opened on 29 April into large-scale embezzlement, according to Interfax and "The Moscow Times" of 13 May.

According to "The Moscow Times": "The investigation uncovered instances of abuse of power by Sukhanov and Perevalov, resulting in 'great material damage to the state as the main shareholder of the company’, Interfax cited law enforcement officials as saying.” Slavneft allegedly used illegal transfer pricing schemes, whereby subsidiary Slavneft-Belgia sold oil at below market prices through a chain of organizations leading to a Sibneft affiliate, which in turn sold the oil at world market prices to international oil companies, said Mikhail Grishankov, a deputy chairman of the Duma's security committee, in an interview aired on NTV television on Saturday [11 May]."

However, according to Western and Russian analysts, the investigation is part of a much larger battle around the privatization of 20 percent of Slavneft. Major companies Sibneft, LUKoil, Tyumen Oil Company (TNK), and Yukos have all joined in the battle to win control of a part of Slavneft. Analysts have pointed out that much of the criminal allegations are part of a behind-the-scenes struggle between two major groups of oligarchs in Russian society; the older "family"-oriented group behind Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and the new "chekist" St. Petersburg group supporting President Vladimir Putin.

"The Moscow Times quoted Steve Allen, oil and gas analyst at Troika Dialog, saying the charges appear to be an attempt to undermine Sukhanov. "The investigation is entirely connected to the election of the company president, and it has to do with a struggle behind the scenes between two or more groups for control of Slavneft," he said.

(RFE/RL 14.vi.02)

 
News Archive