Russia ends sensitive probe against tycoon Yevtushenkov

14th January 2016, Comments 0 comments

Russian authorities have closed the criminal case against billionaire tycoon Vladimir Yevtushenkov, his company said Thursday, after seizing some of his assets and briefly arresting him in a 2014 money laundering probe that scared investors.

Yevtushenkov, who heads the Sistema conglomerate, was accused in September 2014 of money-laundering linked to a deal to acquire oil company Bashneft, in a dramatic case that drew comparisons with that of former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Bashneft -- one of Russia's largest privately-owned energy firms, based in the Volga region of Bashkortostan, in which Sistema held 85 percent -- was then nationalised, while the case against Yevtushenkov is now closed, Sistema said in a statement.

"The criminal case against its (Sistema's) majority shareholder and Chairman of the Board of Directors Vladimir Yevtushenkov in connection with the acquisition of BashTek group has been dropped as it was found that no crime was committed," the statement said.

Yevtushenkov's lawyer Vladimir Kozin told TASS news agency that his client also has the right to claim compensation for illegal criminal prosecution, which saw Sistema's shares plummet in value.

"I cannot say whether he will seek compensation as this is solely his own decision," Kozin said.

Yevtushenkov spent three months under house arrest in 2014, which stunned business and political circles in Russia, sparking fears of a state-orchestrated asset grab as the economy reels from Western sanctions.

Since then however the politically-neutral Yevtushenkov seems to have regained his footing, and in December was among businessmen who met President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin.

© 2016 AFP

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