In mid-September, Russian police started a criminal investigation of yet another Jewish tycoon associated with Czar Vladimir Putin: Vladimir Yevtushenkov, who is supposedly worth a cool $9 billion, but only as long as the Czar lets him keep it.
The Russia and India Report today noted that the legal proceedings against Yevtushenkov is uncomfortably reminiscent of the arrest and trial of former-Yukos owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was released in late 2013 after sitting in prison for ten years.
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Putin’s agents are saying that Yevtushenkov bought stock in a major oil company in Bashkortostan (900 miles outside Moscow) at an illegal discount of $500 million.
So now Yevtushenkov is under house arrest. Which is probably not so uncomfortable when you still have your $9 billion.
Russian experts cited by RIR are saying Yevtushenkov is not in as big a ditch as Khodorkovsky’s, because Yevtushenkov has been staying out of politics.
Khodorkovsky, a sworn enemy of Putin—from a safe distance in Switzerland—says
Igor Sechin, head of state-owned oil giant Rosneft, probably pushed the case against Yevtushenkov.
According to Khodorkovsky, Rosneft’s production has been declining and may be after
Yevtushenkov’s assets in Asia.
Sechin denied the accusation in an interview with Bloomberg.
According to RIR, Yevtushenkov bought the Bashkir fuel and oil complex from the family of former Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov in 2009. The company used to be run Rakhimov’s son Ural.
The price should have been $2.5 billion, but $500 million out of that was conditioned on the company achieving certain financial ratios, which it didn’t, so Yevtushenkov picked it up for only $2 billion.
Russian authorities suspected hanky-panky, suggesting Ural Rakhimov had taken advantage of his father’s position—and charged him, but he fled the country and is now on the international wanted list.
RIR says Yevtushenkov’s assets have been taking a hit from his loss of favor. There was a sharp decline in the value of Bashneft’s parent company, Sistema, whose stock on September 29 plummeted by more than 18 percent on the Moscow Exchange.
And a report from the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Yevtushenkov’s arrest “patently worsens the economic and business climate in the country.”
Better buy the Czar something nice this winter…