Vladislav Baumgertner, director general of Russian potash company Uralkali, has been arrested in Minsk.
The 41-year-old Russian citizen, who is also chairman of the supervisory board of Belarusian Potash Company (BPC), is accused of abuse of office under Article 424 of the Criminal Code.
In addition, criminal proceedings have been initiated against some BPC executives. These include Oleg Petrov, a member of the company’s supervisory board; Konstantin Solodovnikov, first deputy director general; Igor Yevstratov, deputy director general; Dmitry Samoilov, head of the freight department, and “other people”. The four named suspects, all Russian citizens, are also employees of Uralkali. They have been placed on Interpol’s wanted list.
The executives are accused of abusing their office for mercenary purposes, which entailed significant harm to Belarus’ state and public interests, and caused large-scale damage to BPC and Salihorsk-based potash giant Belaruskali, Pavel Traulka, spokesman for the Investigative Committee, said.
The criminal case is apparently linked to Uralkali’s July, 30 decision to stop exports through BPC, its joint trader with Belaruskali.
In his interview with Russian newspaper Vedomosti Mr Baumgertner accused BPC and the Belarusian authorities of developing intrafirm competition and stressed they would not go back to Belarus.
“It was not a secret that we had certain problems with our Belarusian partners. It became evident last December when the Decree was issued by Alexander Lukashenko stating that Belaruskali could export its product not only through BPC but also through traders not affiliated with BPC, and without our agreement on volumes and price. Thus it created a platform for internal competition. For some time it looked like pressure from the Belarusians to get an edge in our internal debates that were happening constantly, but were always of a constructive nature,” the Uralkali CEO stressed.
According to Mr Baumgertner, negotiations continued at all levels until the last possible moment. Uralkali tried to persuade the counterparts that BPC was a unique project which managed to achieve the leadership position on the market and enabled both Belaruskali and Uralkali to make large amounts of money, he said. “But it seems now that our arguments were either taken as bluffing or as empty statements. All that time, we have been asking our partners to abolish the Decree in order to give a clear signal to the market that we were still working together. Unfortunately, it didn ot happen,” Vladislav Baumgertner concluded.
Belsat, following BelaPAN