VTB Bank CEO, mediator between Ulyukaev and Sechin?
Although the bank CEO said that never happened, there have been no official refutations.
VTB CEO Andrey Kostin seems to have been a mediator in the negotiations between former Economic Development Minister Aleksey Ulyukaev and Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, according to Dozhd TV channel citing unnamed sources.
Earlier, Rosbalt had published reports saying there was a certain intermediary in the talks. The source said that the minister had been demanding money through a bank CEO that had trust-based relationship with Sechin, whose name was withheld.
Sources say, Ulyukaev was dissatisfied with the fact that VTB Capital (one of the three strategic business arms of VTB Group) got $30 million from the budget for arranging the Bashneft privatization process, and expressed his discontent to Kostin. He also asked to inform Sechin that the staff of the Ministry of Economic Development and the Federal Property Management Agency engaged in the Bashneft transaction had to get remuneration.
"So there was allegedly a conversation [between Ulyukaev and Kostin], and he said: since you got so much, you should give some support. So, Andrey Leonidovich [Kostin] went straight to Igor Ivanovich [Sechin]. I think the story might be true to some extent at least," quoted Dozhd.
When Andrey Kostin learnt that the media was talking about him, he said that was not the case, although there have been no official refutations. VTB press service has not replied to a formal request of information.
To remind: the same Rosbalt’s source had reported that Rosneft CEO had given a call to the ex-Minister personally and invited him to his office, but then never showed up for the meeting with Ulyukaev on November 14, 2016. A certain top manager of the company passed two cases with money (his name has also been withheld). Ulyukaev picked up one of the suitcases (his fingerprints were found on it), and the Rosneft employee helped him carry the other one to his car.
As our readers might remember, the Investigative Committee of Russia opened a criminal case against Aleksey Ulyukaev on November 15 of 2016, charging him with Bribe-Taking committed by a person who holds a government post, with extortion, on a considerable scale (part 6 of Art. 290 of the Criminal Code). Soon the Minister was dismissed for "loss of trust and confidence." However, Ulyukaev still maintains his innocence in taking the $2-million bribe, calling the accusation a mere act of provocation. Currently, the ex-official is under house arrest.