Moscow, Dec 15 (IANS) A Moscow court on Friday found Russia’s former Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev guilty of bribery.
Ulyukayev is the first minister to stand trial in Russia’s recent history. He was arrested in 2016, accused of trying to extort $2 million from state oil firm Rosneft to green light its purchase of another oil firm, the BBC reported.
The accusation was made by Rosneft boss Igor Sechin, who is also one of President Vladimir Putin’s closest aides. Sechin was asked to testify but did not turn up.
Ulyukayev had denied the charges and alleged that he was framed.
The verdict read out by judge Larisa Semyonova said said Ulyukayev had “made use of his position in order to demand from Rosneft chief Sechin a bribe, in exchange for giving approval” for the purchase of state-owned Bashneft.
“At the same time he told Sechin he would in future obstruct the company’s activities if it rebuffed him,” the verdict said.
Oleg Feoktistov, a former secret service officer who worked for Sechin, testified that the bribery took place on the sidelines of a Brics forum in India. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa form the Brics group.
“Using two fingers he indicated the sum he wanted to receive, which was equivalent to two million dollars,” Feoktistov said, citing what Sechin had told him.
If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine seven times the bribe’s amount, Tass news agency reported.
In November 2016, Putin dismissed Ulyukayev from his high-ranking post citing loss of trust. The ex-minister has been under house arrest ever since then.