Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin. Image courtesy of the Presidential Press and Information Office of Russia.

Russian officials have opened a probe into alleged price fixing and market manipulation by a group of major Russian oil firms.

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) is investigating both privately owned firms including Bashneft and Lukoil as well as state-owned oil giant Rosneft.

Rosneft is headed by Igor Sechin, a long time ally  of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Officials are investigating “suspicious” commodity exchanges this year that may have been designed to drive up national gasoline prices, the BBC said.

The FAS said Wednesday that it believes “there are signs of manipulation of the [Russian commodities] exchange.”

The agency is concerned that drops in gasoline prices have not kept pace with drops in oil prices.

Russia’s national revenues have taken a major hit this year as oil prices slump and western sanctions restrict access to capital as well as oil and gas technologies and services.

The financial pressure has slowed or stopped planned developments in Siberia and other regions.

Russia is one of the largest oil and gas exporters in the world, providing the EU with about 25 percent of its total gas supply.

Bashneft was already under investigation for alleged money laundering tied to Russia-based Sistema’s acquisition of the company.

Prosecutors claim the decision to privatize Bashneft was not made by authorized personnel and did not receive approval from the federal government.

Sistema chief Vladimir Yevtushenkov is currently under house arrest.


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