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Russia’s Sberbank CEO says accusations, arrest of ex-minister look weird

November 17, 2016, 1:43 UTC+3 MOSCOW
"When there is no information, people are, to put it mildly, in a state close to a shock," German Gref said
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Sberbank CEO German Gref

Sberbank CEO German Gref

© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, November 16. /TASS/. Former Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukayev’s arrest looks weird, and it is senseless to comment in the current situation without any additional information, Sberbank CEO German Gref told reporters after a meeting of the public council at the Energy Ministry.

"Comments are possible when there is some information. We hardly ever have such information," Gref said. "No conclusions may be drawn from what we are reading in the media outlets. When there is no information, people are, to put it mildly, in a state close to a shock. In such circumstances comments do not seem to be the right thing."

Gref added that according to meagre pieces of information available to the public, "everything looks weird."

At the same time, Sberbank head said he was not ready to answer a question how a federal minister’s arrest would affect the image of Russian state assets privatization. "These are complicated parallels and I am unprepared now to draw them," he said. "At present, any assessments are senseless," Gref said in conclusion.

Gref and Ulyukayev have been long acquainted due to their joint work in the government’s financial and economic bloc. Ulyukayev was first deputy chairman of the Bank of Russia whereas Gref held the position of economy minister. They often appeared at major international conferences, debating on macroeconomic topics.

On November 14, Ulyukayev was detained as he received $2 million as a bribe in exchange for the Economic Development Ministry’s positive assessment that allowed the oil major Rosneft to purchase a 50.08% government stake in the Bashneft oil company.

Ulyukayev has been indicted under Article 290 of the Russian Criminal Code (bribe-taking) and Moscow’s Basmanny district court ruled to place him under house arrest.

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