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MOSCOW, December 18. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he hoped financial and industrial group AFK Sistema would restore its market value and invited Sistema owner Vladimir Yevtushenkov to his upcoming meeting with business people.
“I hope that Sistema, which has done much for developing microelectronics, in particular, is very actively working in other directions and not only in the fuel and energy sphere and will not only restore its positions on the exchange,” Putin said at his annual news conference.
“We speak about this and I want to meet with our leading business people before the New Year and I do this regularly and Mr. Yevtushenkov was also invited to this meeting,” Putin said.
It was earlier reported that Sistema owner Yevtushenkov was released from house arrest and is coming back to work in the company. Yevtushenkov was placed under house arrest in early September on charges of legalizing ill-gotten funds received from privatization of Bashneft oil company.
Investigators accused Yevtushenkov of buying mid-sized oil producer Bashneft at a price below its market value after the company’s non-transparent privatization transaction in the Urals Republic of Bashkortostan.
Putin said Yevtushenkov had been aware of Bashneft’s understated price.
“The sole thing, which Investigative Committee investigators suspected Mr. Yevtushenkov of, was that in their opinion he was aware of the high value of this asset that was already in the republican ownership and the Investigative Committee estimates it was worth some $5-7 billion, but he bought it for $2 billion,” Putin said.
At the same time, the investigation has not proved that Yevtushenkov was complicit in legalizing ill-gotten funds and these accusations were withdrawn from him, Putin said.
“It is not the point that he marked down the purchase price but it is the point that in this way it looked like as if he legalized, helped illegitimate owners legalize — and investigators say the asset finally turned out to be in private ownership after a series of transactions and not even in the ownership of the Republic of Bashkortostan — as if he helped launder money,” Putin said.
“But the investigation has not proved this fact and such accusations against him were dropped,” Putin said.
Sistema’s shares skyrocketed by almost 150% on the Moscow Exchange on Thursday from their 18% growth at the start of the trading session after Putin’s statement.
Sistema’s stock climbed to 16.18 rubles ($0.27) per share while the company’s market value grew by 92.35 billion rubles to 156.14 billion rubles ($2.3 billion).