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Russian court seizes Sistema shares in Bashneft

A Russian court has seized shares in oil company Bashneft that are owned by Sistema, a conglomerate controlled by wealthy businessman Vladimir Yevtushenkov, over alleged violations in the oil firm's sale.

The court granted a request by the Russian prosecutor general's office, which said on Friday it had uncovered "significant violations" of the law in the sale of energy assets in the Ural mountains region of Bashkortostan, including Bashneft.

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"Taking into consideration that the disposal of those assets was done in violation of procedures on the privatisation of state property, the prosecutor general's office, with the aim of protecting state interests, has filed a lawsuit seeking interim measures involving the seizure of shares," it said.

Chairman of conglomerate Sistema, Vladimir Yevtushenkov in St. Petersburg, in May.
Sergei Karpukhin | Reuters

Sistema, which acquired an almost 80 percent stake in Bashneft for $2.5 billion in 2009, has been unable to deal in its Bashneft shares since July because of a related investigation.

Yevtushenkov was put under house arrest last week on suspicion of money laundering during the Bashneft deal, raising fears of a return to more state intervention in the economy and drawing comparisons with the fate of ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade in jail on fraud and tax evasion changes after falling out with President Vladimir Putin.

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Sistema, contacted by telephone, declined immediate comment on the seizure of its Bashneft shares. Sistema has denied the accusations against Yevtushenkov.

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