RusAl, Base Element Files Seized


AP

Oleg Deripaska

Interior Ministry investigators have raided Oleg Deripaska's Base Element and Russian Aluminum offices, confiscating documents as part of an ongoing investigation initiated by Deripaska adversary Andrei Andreyev, who claims the oligarch stole his assets.

Andreyev, an entrepreneur, says he is the legal owner of majority stakes in insurers Ingosstrakh (controlled by Base Element) and Rossia as well as Avtobank and dozens of other companies that were sold -- without his consent, he says -- in September 2001.

Avtobank executive Natalya Rayevskaya and one Rodion Gazmayev, about whom little is known, signed the agreement allowing the sale, while RusAl board member David Davidovich and Nafta-Moskva board member Dzhabrail Shykhaliyev signed the agreement on the buyer's behalf.

In a recent interview, Rayevskaya said she had been pressured with threats to sign the agreement, though she had no right to do so.

Andreyev said the deal was illegal almost as soon as it had been completed and went to the authorities right away.

Andreyev says investigators opened the case last January.

In April, the assets in question -- including 84 percent of Ingosstrakh, 84 percent of Rossia and 65 percent of Avtobank -- were frozen by authorities, pending a decision on rightful ownership. But on June 28, the shares were unfrozen. The stakes were held by Base Element, Millhouse Capital and Nafta-Moskva. The June ruling was then overturned on Sept. 10, and the stakes were frozen again, but not before Base Element and its partners got busy trading the shares Andreyev says are his.

The investigation continued, and documents were seized last year from the offices of Nafta-Moskva.

Speaking about last week's raid, a RusAl employee who wished to remain anonymous said 20 investigators came to the building with six armed guards: "They produced papers giving them the right to take documents as part of the Andreyev criminal investigation and spent about three hours in the office."

A spokesman for Base Element, also raided by investigators last Wednesday, refused to comment. The Interior Ministry likewise declined.

The RusAl source said investigators pored through accounting and legal department files. Spokeswoman Vera Kurochkina said RusAl had nothing to do with the Andreyev case but gave investigators full access to everything they wanted to see.

A government official close to the investigation said some interesting documents had been found and more document confiscations should be expected.

Andreyev's business partner, Tatyana Dyogtyar, said it would take a while to sort out to whom the stakes belong because "after the controversial sale, the assets were resold many times."