- Title: Russian Economy Minister arrives in court, charged with extorting $2 mln bribe
- Date: 15th November 2016
- Summary: MOSCOW, RUSSIA (NOVEMBER 15, 2016) (REUTERS) PEOPLE WALKING INTO MOSCOW'S BASAMANNY COURT PLAQUE FOR COURT ABOVE ENTRANCE ECONOMY MINISTER ALEXEI ULYUKAYEV BEING ASSISTED TO STEP OUT OF VEHICLE AND WALK INTO COURT BUILDING PEOPLE OUTSIDE COURT RUSSIAN FLAG EXTERIOR OF RUSSIAN MINISTRY OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT MAN STEPPING OUT OF BUILDING AND GETTING INTO CAR
- Embargoed: 30th November 2016 14:16
- Keywords: Russia court
- Location: MOSCOW, RUSSIA
- City: MOSCOW, RUSSIA
- Country: Russia
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice,Judicial Process/Court Cases/Court Decisions
- Reuters ID: LVA00158K1553
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev has denied he is guilty of receiving bribes, a Russian investigator told a court on Tuesday (November 15).
Ulyukayev, who was detained overnight and charged with extorting a $2 million bribe from Rosneft, Russia's biggest oil company, could be seen being escorted into Moscow's Basmanny court.
The arrest threatens to expose fault lines in President Vladimir Putin's inner circle.
Ulyukayev, a 60-year-old technocrat whose ministry has been overseeing a sale of state assets, is the highest-ranking Russian official to be detained while in office since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
He faces up to 15 years in jail if found guilty.
The Investigative Committee, the state agency that investigates major crimes, said Ulyukayev had extorted the bribe in exchange for approving Rosneft's $5 billion purchase of a stake in mid-sized oil producer Bashneft.
Svetlana Petrenko, a spokesperson for the committee said Ulyukayev had threatened to use his position to cause problems for Rosneft unless it paid him.
"According to investigation data (Alexei) Ulyukayev demanded from a Rosneft representative a bribe as a thank-you for legal endorsement and assessment on Rosneft's purchase of the state's stake in Bashneft. The accused expressed threats to create further obstacles to the company's operation using his official powers."
She added investigators were not challenging the legality of Rosneft's purchase of the Bashneft stake or investigating it.
In a country where bribes have sometimes totalled many tens of millions of dollars, there was surprise in some quarters at the relatively small size of the alleged payment.
The minister has been in his job since June 2013. He is not part of Putin's inner circle, which is dominated by people who favour a commanding role for the state in the economy, but neither is he a part of the rival camp of economic liberals.
Ulyukayev is close to Andrei Kostin, the influential head of Russia's second-biggest lender, state-owned VTB, and chairs VTB's supervisory board.
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