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Prosecutors may change claims to Sistema holding company

October 09, 2014, 14:41 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Moscow Arbitration Court ruled on Thursday against allowing Russia’s Investigative Committee to join the lawsuit filed by the General Prosecutor’s Office against the holding company Sistema
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© ITAR-TASS/Sergei Bobylev

MOSCOW, October 9. /TASS/. The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office may change its claims to Sistema holding company in the case of the acquisition of Bashneft oil firm’s shares, Prosecutor General spokeswoman Yulia Malysheva said on Thursday.

“The claims may be expanded, if the First Deputy Prosecutor-General takes a decision,” the spokeswoman said, commenting on a Moscow court’s decision to reject the Russian Investigative Committee’s petition to present its own claims to Sistema under a lawsuit filed by the prosecutors.

Moscow Arbitration Court ruled on Thursday against allowing Russia’s Investigative Committee to join the lawsuit filed by the General Prosecutor’s Office against the holding company Sistema owned by billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov.

Therefore, the court will not consider the Investigative Committee’s claims in the Bashneft case to recover about $4.7 billion from Sistema and its subsidiary Sistema Invest in favor of the state.

Russia’s Investigative Committee earlier requested the court to recover $3.6 billion from Sistema and $1.18 billion from Sistema Invest under the lawsuit filed by the General Prosecutor’s Office in the case of the unlawful acquisition of Bashneft oil producer.

The Investigative Committee said these sums comprised dividends received by Sistema and Sistema Invest on Bashneft shares in 2009-2013.

The court announced only the resolutive part of the ruling on Thursday while its motivated part will be ready in several days, the spokeswoman said, adding that the Investigative Committee has the right to appeal against the judgement.

The court held preliminary hearings on Thursday to consider a lawsuit filed by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office against holding company Sistema and its subsidiary Sistema Invest on violations committed during the privatization of the Bashkortostan fuel and energy companies that now make up oil producer Bashneft and the return of Bashneft’s assets to the state.

The lawsuit was filed on September 26 jointly with Russia’s State Property Committee.

Case of Bashneft oil company privatization

Bashneft is majority controlled by Sistema whose owner Vladimir Yevtushenkov was placed under house arrest in September on charges of money laundering in the case of Bashneft’s acquisition.

A prosecutor said in the Moscow Arbitration Court on Thursday that the fuel and energy companies of the Urals Republic of Bashkortostan had been privatized without the Russian government’s permission.

“The property located on the territory of Bashkortostan belonged to the Russian Federation. No permission for privatization was obtained from the Russian Federation,” the prosecutor said.

“We believe that the property is currently unlawfully possessed. The Russian Federation has the right to demand this property back,” the prosecutor said.

The Moscow Arbitration Court has scheduled for October 23 court hearings for examining the substance of the prosecutors’ lawsuit on the return of oil producer Bashneft’s assets to the state.

The court ruled on September 25 to arrest the Bashneft shares owned by Sistema and its subsidiary Sistema Invest.

In July, Moscow’s Basmanny Court ruled to arrest the Bashneft shares owned by Sistema as a protective measure in the case of violations committed during Bashneft’s privatization.

Sistema held a 63.16% stake in Bashneft while its subsidiary Sistema Invest possessed 10.67% as of May 14, 2014.

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