Besides Ulyukaev investigators watched Dvorkovich and Shuvalov's assistant

Besides Ulyukaev investigators watched Dvorkovich and Shuvalov's assistant
Alexey Ulyukaev Photo: Photo: TASS / Artyom Geodakyan

The Economic Development Minister was not the only one watched by the secret services.

The Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, the President’s Assistant and former Minister of Economic Development Andrey Belousov, the Head of the Corporate Governance Department of the Economy Ministry Oksana Tarasenko and Igor Shuvalov’s assistant Marina Romanova – all those people have also been the subject of close attention, according to  Vedomosti with reference to sources among the security forces. The newspaper emphasized that each of them had spoken against the transfer of Bashneft to Rosneft. At the same time, up to eight new defendants are now expected in the Ulyukaev's case, as stated by  RIA Novosti with a reference to an unnamed source. So far the Minister is the only official defendant in the bribery case.

Alexey Ulyukaev’s position among the other officials had been the most vulnerable: the Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was the one providing him his patronage, which is why he had not been arrested until now. He himself described what happened as a challenging situation both for the government and the state.

However, the part Ulyukaev has played in Rosneft’s decision to buy Bashneft is still unclear, given that it was made at the top level, which is the President and the Prime Minister, Vedomosti said.

It had initially been planned to place Bashneft shares on public auction. 9 companies expressed their will to purchase the shares and Rosneft was not one of them. Ulyukaev said the company could not make the purchase, although only a special Government act could prohibit it to buy Bashneft. The Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich also said there was no way Rosneft could participate in the privatization. In August, the Bloomberg, referring to its two informed sources said the Russian President Vladimir Putin had banned Rosneft from participation in the auction. Still, Rosneft was admitted to the trading in September, as was announced by the first Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov. On October 12, Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree of selling Bashneft’s 50.07% of shares to Rosneft for 329 billion rubles. In just two days the price was paid. On the same day, Vladimir Putin said that despite being somewhat surprised by the Government’s position, he believes the deal to be quite legitimate since firstly, Rosneft was not an entirely state-owned company, and secondly, Rosneft offered the highest bidder. Curiously, another contender for the purchase of Bashneft said they had only received an invite to take part in the privatization with literally no conditions or date. Everyone learnt that it was Rosneft that made the purchase only after the deal was over. The Ministry of Economic Development then specified that the transaction had been done by the Government decree, which means no bids were needed.

We should also mention that  RBC obtained a letter addressed to Dmitry Medvedev from the leadership of Alliance companies that offered to pay for Bashneft 4 billion rubles more than Rosneft did later. The letter was dated October 12 - the day when the Bashneft deal was closed.

After Ulyukaev was arrested, the Investigative Committee said they took no issue with the transaction itself.

Vedomosti’s source also found surprising the way the grounds for Ulyukaev’s arrest had been put - when extorting a bribe, it is said, the Minister threatened to create obstacles for Rosneft’s activities. How would the Economic Development Minister create obstacles for Rosneft’s CEO Igor Sechin is baffling, the officials said.

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