Seizure will be lifted from Bashneft shares if they are returned to state - source

If the Moscow Arbitration Court decides to return the Bashneft shares to the state on Thursday, the seizure imposed on them in connection with a criminal case involving the stealing of securities will be lifted from them to return them to their lawful owner, a source with knowledge on the situation told Interfax.

If the Moscow Arbitration Court decides to return the Bashneft shares to the state on Thursday, the seizure imposed on them in connection with a criminal case involving the stealing of securities will be lifted from them to return them to their lawful owner, a source with knowledge on the situation told Interfax.

Alexei Veleslyev, an investigator from the group of investigators working on the case involving the illegal sale of Bashneft shares to charity foundations, has come to the Moscow Arbitration Court, which is beginning the trial of the Russian Prosecutor Generals office lawsuit against AFK Sistema and its subsidiary Sistema-Invest, despite the fact that the Investigative Committee is not a party to this trial, an Interfax correspondent has reported.

"The presence of the investigator in the arbitration court is due to the fact that, if the Bashneft shares are returned to the state, the seizure imposed on them in connection with the criminal case involving illegal sale of securities will have to be lifted from them," the source said.

The Moscow Arbitration Court on Thursday is trying the lawsuit filed by the Prosecutor General's Office and Rosimushchestvo against AFK Sistema and its subsidiary Sistema-Invest seeking the return of Bashneft shares to the state.

According to earlier reports, the Moscow Arbitration Court has seized the shares of the company Bashneft owned by Sistema and Sistema-Invest at the Prosecutor General's Office's request. Marina Gridneva, an official with the Prosecutor General's Office, said "a probe conducted by the Prosecutor General's Office has yielded considerable violations of the legislation in the alienation of the fuel and energy sector companies in the republic of Bashkortstan."

"Bearing in mind that the said property complexes were disposed of in violation of the procedures governing the privatization of state property against the will of the Russian Federation, the Prosecutor General's Office has filed a lawsuit with the Moscow Arbitration Court to protect the interest of the state by returning the property to its lawful owner and seizing the shares of JSC ANK Bashneft," Gridneva said.

"Bashneft is owned by AFK Sistema, but the law enforcement agencies are now seeking the return of the oil company's shares to the state.

The privatization of the BashTEK companies and subsequent sale of these assets to Sistema are an object of several criminal cases and lawsuits. Charges have been fled against Ural Rakhimov, former head of Bashneft, businessman Levon Airapetyan, and Vladimir Yevtushenkov, the main owner of AFK. Rakhimov was put on the international wanted persons list, Airapetyan was arrested in July, and Yevtushenkov was put under house arrest on September 26.

AFK bought the BashTEK assets from foundations believed to be close to Murtaza Rakhimov, who was then head of Bashkortostan, and his son U. Rakhimov. In the course of several years, Sistema turned the BashTEK assets into a vertically integrated company.

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