Judge orders Rosneft CEO Sechin to appear as witness in bribery case

Rosneft Chief Executive Sechin delivers a speech at the Zvezda shipyard in the far eastern town of Bolshoy Kamen
Rosneft Chief Executive Igor Sechin delivers a speech at the Zvezda shipyard in the far eastern town of Bolshoy Kamen, Russia September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

November 8, 2017

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian judge on Wednesday ordered Igor Sechin, the head of Russian oil giant Rosneft and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, to appear as a witness in the bribery trial of former economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev.

Ulyukayev was dismissed and put under house arrest a year ago over allegations that he took a $2 million bribe from Rosneft. He denies the charges.

RIA news agency quoted a court secretary as saying the hearing where Sechin would testify would take place on Monday, Nov. 13.

Rosneft declined to comment.

Ulyukayev, who has already accused Sechin in court of framing him, was detained on Nov. 14 last year at Rosneft’s Moscow headquarters, moments after Sechin handed him the cash in a late-night meeting that, according to prosecutors, was designed to catch the minister in the act of accepting a bribe.

Analysts say the case is politically charged because Sechin represents a powerful faction in the Kremlin which favors greater state control over the economy and has clashed with a group of economic liberals in the government that included Ulyukayev.

(Reporting by Polina NikolskayaWriting by Vladimir SoldatkinEditing by Greg Mahlich)