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Economy minister detention over $2 mln bribe and Aleppo mop-up operation

Vedomosti: Economy Minister detained on suspected $2 mln bribe for giving green light to Bashneft deal

The Russian Investigative Committee (IC) has detained Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukayev on suspicion of receiving $2 mln on November 14 for the positive assessment provided by the Economic Development Ministry that allowed Rosneft to complete the deal on purchasing the 50% state stake in Bashneft. According to Vedomosti: "These are very serious charges that require very powerful evidence. In any case, only a court can solve anything," Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Vedomosti.

Rosneft purchased a 50% state stake in Bashneft in mid-October. The acquisition of Bashneft's shares by Rosneft was legal and is not subject to investigation, according to IC.

Ulyukayev said earlier that the decision to sell Bashneft shares to Rosneft was accepted because it had put up the most funds. That said, no privatization tender was carried out.

However, according to Vedomosti, the government investment consultant, VTB Capital did not even suggest sending other applicants such requests. Rosneft took the initiative. "The company has received only one letter from VTB Capital offering to participate in the privatization, to which it had agreed," a representative of one of the corporate bidders. The bank did not invite other applicants, because it had not received instructions from the Economic Development Ministry and the government, a source that participated in the sale of Bashneft told Vedomosti.

The minister is now in custody and a criminal case has been launched against Ulyukayev after Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) completed a series of operational activities. The case was opened by the Russian Investigative Committee's Main investigative department on probing high-profile cases.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 15Nov16]

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