Russian Economy Minister Ulyukaev arrested over Bashneft ‘bribe’

Putin and UlyukaevRussia’s Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukaev is under arrest after being accused of accepting a $2m bribe in exchange for signing off on Rosneft’s purchase of a stake in mid-sized oil producer Bashneft. “The minister is detained,” the Investigation Committee said in a statement released overnight. “In the near future investigators plan to bring charges against Alexei Ulyukayev.”
The Minister’s arrest underlines just how deep the divisions over the Bashneft sell-off ran at the highest echelons of power within the Kremlin and may also be significant in that it appears to indirectly implicate one of President Putin’s closest allies in Rosneft Chairman Igor Sechin.
Rosneft CEO Igor SechinThe deal was fiercely opposed by economic liberals in the government – including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev – who believed that Bashneft should be sold off to private investors instead of to another state-run enterprise. Ulyukayev initially objected, but eventually signed off on the deal. One of Russia’s most powerful men, Sechin lobbied hard for permission to bid for Bashneft and Rosneft eventually emerged the winner in what effectively became a one-horse race.
Rosneft spokesman Mikhail Leontyev was quoted by the TASS news agency as saying that the company saw no risk to the Bashneft deal stemming from Ulyukayev’s arrest. “The deal is absolutely above board,” he said.
But is this a warning shot across Sechin’s bows? And who offered Ulyukaev the bribe?

Source: reuters