'Ex-Stasi agent' to join Rosneft board: report
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin would like to appoint an old KGB friend and member of East Germany's Stasi security service to the board of state oil firm Rosneft, a news report said Thursday.
Matthias Warnig now heads the Nord Stream pipeline construction project and knew Putin from the prime minister's days as a Soviet-era intelligence worker, the Kommersant business daily reported.
Putin urged the Russian energy ministry to propose Warnig's candidacy to the Rosneft board in a letter signed April 14, Kommersant cited government and ministry sources as saying.
The reported order came after President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans to remove government officials from the boards of companies held by the state in a move aimed at improving their efficiency.
Russia's effective energy tsar and close Putin ally Igor Sechin resigned from Rosneft after Medvedev's instructions and the company's current board makeup remains in a state of flux.
Warnig has previously worked as the head of Dresdner Bank in Russia.
A former Dresdner Bank bank executive told the Wall Street Journal in 2005 that Warnig had alluded to his Stasi connections but that German investigators eventually dropped the case.
The Wall Street Journal said at the time that Warnig and Putin jointly recruited East Germans to work for the KGB.
Rosneft is seeking to expand its international presence and in January signed a share swap and joint Arctic exploration agreement with BP that has since been hung up in courts.
Kommersant said Warnig became a Stasi major before retiring in 1989 in the months preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall and then began a meteoric career path in Russia.
The Wall Street Journal said he opened the first Dresdner Bank in Putin's native city of Saint Petersburg in 1991 and in 2008 was appointed to the board of Bank Rossiya -- a lender believed to have been founded by the prime minister's friends.
He also reportedly spearheaded negotiations with European nations that paved the way for the construction of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline to Germany.
"Rosneft was lucky to attract a person who personally led negotiations with the Europeans over the Nord Stream project," Kommersant quoted one Russian businessman as saying.
"This is a brilliant move" by Rosneft, said the Russian entrepreneur.
© 2011 AFP