KIROV, January 30 (Itar-Tass) - Kirov region governor Nikita Belykh is being questioned as a witness in the case over the theft of 100 million roubles during the privatization of a 25-percent municipal stake in the Urzhum distillery, head of the regional department for internal and information policy Boris Vesnin said.
"He is at the investigator's," Vesnin confirmed.
"The case is being handled by the Investigative Committee's central office, and investigators from Moscow are questioning the governor here in Kirov," the SK's regional department told Itar-Tass.
The governor wrote on his blog on Tuesday: "tomorrow, January 30, I'll report to the investigator as a witness. That will disrupt my workschedule a bit again. We'll catch up. I have a scheduled trip to Moscow on Thursday and Friday. We are continuing to work."
Belykh said various procedural actions were underway within the framework of the investigation. "One of the Moscow courts decided I might have documents at home or at work which are of interest to the investigators. Consequently, they are trying to find them today /January 29/."
Commenting on the Tuesday search, Belykh said "the investigators behaved correctly" and that he helped them sort out the documents. "I have lots of papers on my table, so the search took much time," the governor wrote on Live Journal.
According to the investigators, the shares were acquired by the Partner company. Its director general Igor Burkov asked appraiser of Technical Inventory Bureau /BTI/, Kirov branch, Marianna Popova to understate the value of property in an expert conclusion, in a deal brokered by Andrei Devyatyarov. The conclusion was submitted to the Kirov region's state property department to calculate the price of a package of shares at 98.37 million roubles. The average market value of this property amounts to at least 197 million roubles," the SK said.
On 24, police detained, as suspects, Partner director general Igor Burkov, intermediary Andrei Devyatyerov and BTI appraiser Marianna Popova. Former director of the state property department Konstantin Arzamastsev is on the wanted list.
Criminal proceedings were opened back on December 18, under penal code Article 160, Part 4 /misappropriation of squandering in an especially large amount by an organized group/. The SK stated than that it would check for involvement in the crime all the officials regardless of their rank, up to the regional governor, as well as the governor's former aide Alexei Navalny, who the investigator said had attempted to become a member of the Urzhum distillery board.
The investigator ascertained that in the autumn of 2010, Arzamastsev, as director of the department for state property of the Kirov region, signed the instruction to privatize a 25.5 percent stake in the Urzhum distillery, which was part of the region's property, in the amount of 22,698 nominal uncertificated shares by selling them at an auction at an understated price.
"The official knew that in actual fact, the distillery was one of the most successful and profitable companies not only in his province, but also in the whole country, and that the real market value of the state-owned stake was worth at least 197 million roubles.
"Despite this fact, Arzamastsev, acting on behalf of the Kirov region, concluded a contract of sale with the director of a private company in the town of Kirov for distillery shares at a price established during the auction," Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said.
As a result of this scheme, regional budget revenue fell short of almost 100 million roubles.