A Russian court ordered the seizure of Sistema’s 80 percent stake in oil company Bashneft Friday, sparking fears among investors that the Kremlin may claw back the privatization of assets formerly held by the state.
Russian prosecutors filed a lawsuit against Russian conglomerate Sistema that seeks to return the company’s Bashneft stake to the government.
The lawsuit was prompted by what prosecutors are calling “significant violations” in Sistema’s acquisition of the $2.5 billion stake from the government of Bashkortostan, a republic in western Russia.
Prosecutors claim the violations amount to “illegal possession” of the stake and claim the republic lost $5 billion because of the sale.
The seizure is an interim measure until the court holds a hearing on the lawsuit on October 9, Reuters said.
Sistema is headed by Russian billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov who has been under house arrest since last week after being charged with money laundering.
Yevtushenkov is accused of laundering stolen state assets during Sistema’s purchase of Bashneft and other energy companies controlled by Ural Rakhimov, the son of the former president of the Bashkortostan republic, the Guardian said.
Yevtushenkov, 66, will remain under house arrest until November 16.
Russia’s Rosneft, headed by Putin ally Igor Sechin, has denied multiple reports that it plans to acquire Sistema.
Sistema is the sixth largest oil producer in Russia.