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Toni Schönfelder
A lifetime of innovation

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Toni Schönfelder
A lifetime of innovation

From Transperancy 2002.01.10 Two held in first criminal probe into Gazprom Financial Times 10 Jan 2002 A top executive atGazprom, the Russian gasmonopoly, and the head of Sibur, oneof its leading subsidiaries, were yesterday detained by Russian prosecutors in relation to alleged asset stripping totalling Rbs2.6bn (Dollars 85m). The move represents the first significant criminal investigation against Gazprom after months of growing concerns about mismanagement at the company by shareholders including the Russian state, which owns 38 per cent. It is also the strongest sign yet of a new willingness by the administration of President Vladimir Putin to tackle allegations of high-level corruption, after a period of keeping those under suspicion in their existing positions or moving them to other important posts. Russias public prosecutors office confirmed yesterday that it had detained Vyacheslav Sheremet, a Gazprom director, and Yakov Goldovsky, chief executive of the petrochemicals group Sibur, after a raid by the public prosecutors at Siburs Moscow headquarters on Tuesday. Some reports said Mr Goldovskys deputy Yevgeny Koshchitz was also being held. Mr Sheremet, who sits on the board of Sibur, was previously the deputy to Rem Vyakhirev, the long-standing head of Gazprom. Both men were effectively demoted while retaining their board seats last summer after Mr Putin nominated his long-time associate Alexei Miller as chief executive of Gazprom in May. Mr Miller has been gradually appointing his own team at Gazprom, and making efforts to recover assets, including last month exercising an option to buy back at a nominal sum a 32 per cent stake in the gas company Purgaz it had previously transferred to Itera, a Florida-based gas producer. Gazprom owns 51 per cent of Sibur, but under Mr Vyakhirev appeared to exert little direct authority over the company in spite of providing an estimated Dollars 800m in loans and a further Dollars 80m for an equity stake. Mr Millers new team last autumn blocked a planned rights issue at Sibur, and was attempting to re-exert greater influence. Gazprom is believed to have been planning to replace Mr Goldovsky with its own nominee, and to take the majority of the seats on a reduced board. Gazprom also unexpectedly announced yesterday that it was withdrawing from a planned extraordinary Sibur shareholders meeting hours before it was due to take place, making it inquorate and causing its cancellation. It said it wanted to amend Siburs corporate charter in line with modifications to Russian company law, which would reduce the majority required to appoint a chief executive from 75 per cent to 50 per cent.

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