Russian ex-minister on trial for bribery blames Putin ally

Breaking months of silence, the previous Russian financial improvement minister on trial for allegedly accepting a $2 million bribe publicly accused the top of Russia’s oil firm on Wednesday of setting him up.

Alexei Ulyukayev, the very best-rating Russian official to have been arrested since 1993, was detained final yr on the headquarters of Russia’s largest oil producer, Rosneft, after a sting operation arrange by the FSB intelligence company. The circumstances of the case have ignited hypothesis that Ulyukayev fell sufferer to a Kremlin energy play by Igor Sechin, chief government of Rosneft and President Vladimir Putin’s shut affiliate.

Ulyukayev, who has been beneath home arrest since final November, testified in courtroom Wednesday that he was arrange by Sechin, saying the CEO had invited him to his workplace and handed him the briefcase with money.

“The FSB had plotted find out how to hand over the cash,” Ulyukayev advised the courtroom. “Sechin referred to as me, stated he wanted to speak concerning the company’s affairs and satisfied me to return over to Rosneft, the place he gave me the cash.”

Ulyukayev stated the fees are trumped up and based mostly “solely” on Sechin’s testimony.

Sechin hasn’t commented on the accusation.

Neither Ulyukayev nor his legal professionals had commented on the case beforehand, giving rise to hypothesis that the previous minister wouldn’t need to publicly tackle Sechin, one of the feared Kremlin insiders. Sechin has been working in several capacities beneath Putin because the early Nineteen Nineties and is believed to wield virtually limitless affect in Russia’s power sector.

The Ulyukayev case has been extensively seen as a part of Putin’s ongoing efforts to stability rival factions within the higher echelons of energy in Russia.

Investigators stated Ulyukayev accepted the cash for having given the inexperienced mild to Rosneft to participate in bidding for an additional oil firm.

Critics, nevertheless, questioned why the cost was made a month after Rosneft accomplished the deal, why it was paid in money and why the skilled Ulyukayev, who had labored within the Russian authorities since 2000, can be silly sufficient to extort cash from the tremendous-highly effective Sechin.

Ulyukayev, who was appointed a deputy finance minister in 2000 and financial improvement minister in 2013, has spoken out towards growing authorities presence within the Russian financial system. He had initially opposed Rosneft’s bidding for the opposite firm, Bashneft, saying it was improper for a state-owned firm to participate in a privatization drive.

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