MOSCOW, December 25. /TASS/. Sistema holding company owned and managed by Russian billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov has filed a lawsuit with Moscow’s Arbitration Court to claim damages from Ural-Invest for the loss of oil firm Bashneft.
Ural-Invest is a company linked with Ural Rakhimov, a son of former leader of the Urals Republic of Bashkortostan Murtaza Rakhimov, who stood behind privatization of the republic’s fuel and energy companies now integrated into Bashneft.
Sistema, whose owner Yevtushenkov was freed from house arrest last week after charges of complicity in laundering ill-gotten funds were dropped against him, has filed the claim after the enforcement of a court ruling on granting a lawsuit filed by the Prosecutor General’s Office and obliging Sistema and its subsidiary Sistema-Invest to return Bashneft to state ownership, the company said.
Sistema gained control of Bashneft after purchasing 71% of the company’s shares from Ural-Invest.
The Moscow Arbitration Court granted the prosecutors’ claim to renationalize Bashneft’s shares on October 9. The court ruled that a series of privatization transactions, after which the Bashkortostan fuel and energy companies were placed under the ownership of Ural Rakhimov, were conducted with violations of the Russian legislation.
The defendants in the case were Yevtushenkov’s Sistema, its investment unit Sistema-Invest, and also Bashneft.
On September 16, Yevtushenkov was charged with the theft of shares of the Bashkortostan fuel and energy sector and money laundering and placed under house arrest.
The Sistema owner was freed from house arrest on December 17 after investigators found no proof of his complicity in legalizing ill-gotten funds obtained from Bashneft’s privatization and these charges were dropped against him.
At the same time, Yevtushenkov is still charged with acquiring Bashneft shares from Ural Rakhimov at an understated price below the company’s market value. Ural Rakhimov who is currently in hiding is accused of illegally obtaining the shares of the Bashkortostan fuel and energy sector.
Considering these facts, Yevtushenkov’s status in the Bashneft case may soon be changed from a suspect to a witness.
Yevtushenkov currently owns 64.185% of Sistema’s shares.
The Bashneft case investigation has been extended until April 28, 2015.
Sistema started to buy up Bashkortostan energy companies in 2005, gradually building up its stakes in Bashneft, four refineries, the oil trader Bashkirnefteprodukt and power utility Bashkirenergo to finally acquire their controlling share packages for a total of $2 billion.
Yevtushenkov’s Sistema did not participate in privatization of the Bashkortostan fuel and energy assets, which were subsequently sold by structures close to Ural Rakhimov.