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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Firm Wins Central Bank Audit

A State Duma commission set up to pick an auditor for the Central Bank on Wednesday snubbed Central Bank head Viktor Gerashchenko by choosing a Russian auditing company.

Gerashchenko asked the Duma earlier this year to reconsider its choice of Russian firm Unicon as the Central Bank's auditor and recommended that Big Six firm Coopers & Lybrand be appointed instead. He argued that Russia could count on a better standing with foreign lenders if its Central Bank was audited by a renowned Western firm.

But the Duma's budget committee could not simply appoint Coopers & Lybrand as the Central Bank's auditor; Unicon had won a tender for the job. It was decided to announce a new tender.

On Wednesday, four members of the commission that ran the tender gave their votes to Unicon. Two ballots were cast for Arthur Andersen and one for Coopers & Lybrand.

Analysts have said that although they valued good relations with Gerashchenko, many deputies would like to see a Russian company audit the Central Bank because this would make the bank more transparent for them.

Unicon, which audited the Central Bank in 1996 and 1997, charged the lowest fee of $362,000 for its services, compared to $396,000 and $432,000 respectively for Arthur Andersen and Coopers & Lybrand.

The commission's decision will be discussed by the budget committee on Tuesday, and if its choice is approved, Unicon will await the verdict of the full Duma. Budget committee officials have said they hope the auditor will be confirmed by the end of the year.

"The commission only confirmed its previous decision," Unicon president Andrei Dubinsky said in an interview.

The company counts on the budget committee to back it, Dubinsky said.

"If the committee doesn't confirm the decision it took earlier, this will mean the issue is not being regarded from the professional point of view, but from the point of view of political weight of various figures," he said.

According to Unicon spokesman Filipp Ilyin, Wednesday's tender saw some bizarre twists.

The commission members were "benevolent" toward Coopers&Lybrand at first, but were taken aback when the firm presented its proposals in English, Ilyin said.

Coopers & Lybrand could not be reached for comment Wednesday.