Rakhimov claims Sistema’s $1.3 billion suit over Bashneft to be ungrounded
MOSCOW, December 29 (RAPSI) – Russian businessman Ural Rakhimov claims an action brought by AFK Sistema seeking 70.7 billion rubles ($1.3 billion) in damages over Bashneft oil company to be ungrounded, TASS reported on Monday, citing Rakhimov's lawyer Sergei Makarenko.
As of December 26, the oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Sistema has filed a lawsuit against Ural Invest, a company associated with Ural Rakhimov. It seeks compensation from Bashneft’s former owners for the damages it allegedly sustained due to the confiscation of its stake in the midsized oil company.
The lawsuit was filed with the Moscow Commercial Court after the court’s decision to restore state ownership in Bashneft shares came into effect.
“We consider the claim to be ungrounded,” Makarenko said, adding that the commercial court’s ruling has no prejudicial force for Ural Invest, which was not involved in the Bashneft lawsuit.
The lawyer said that since Sistema did not sue Bashneft, it cannot cite the court’s ruling on the return of the Bashneft stake to the government as laid out in its claim.
Makarenko also said that the Ural Invest accounts that were seized in October 2014 have not been released yet. Sistema bought 71 percent of Bashneft shares from Ural Invest, a group of companies associated with Ural Rakhimov.
Bashneft was controlled by the Bashkortostan region until 2003, when a major stake was sold to companies affiliated with Ural Rakhimov, son of the former head of Bashkortostan Murtaza Rakhimov. Sistema gained control of the company during its privatization in 2009.
Rakhimov and Sitema CEO billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov were implicated in the sale of Bashneft stock in 2009. Rakhimov was charged in absentia with embezzlement and money laundering and placed on the international wanted list.
In late October, the Moscow Commercial Court ruled that the Bashneft stock be returned to the government because the privatization deals that resulted in the company becoming the property of Ural Rakhimov were carried out in violation of the law. The defendants in the case were Yevtushenkov’s Sistema, its subsidiary Sistema Invest and Bashneft.