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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

$250Bln in Flight?

The Moscow Times

Some $250 billion taken out of Russia is sitting in foreign bank accounts, an Interior Ministry official said, Interfax reported Thursday.

"We beg the West for an extra billion dollars in loans, while $250 billion of our own is sitting in foreign banks. This is five annual Russian budgets," Alexander Babichev, the deputy head of the center for fighting money laundering at the Interior Ministry, said in an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.

Babichev said most capital is channeled out of the country through offshore firms set up by major Russian companies.

In order to return capital that has fled the country, "we must provide proof that the capital is Russian and criminal. Then they [the West] will repatriate it," Babichev said.

Sugar Tariff Talks


The Commission for Protective Measures in Foreign Trade will consider proposed changes to import tariffs on sugar and sunflower oil at a meeting Friday, an official said Thursday.

Last November, about 20 companies won a tender to import 3.65 million tons of raw sugar this year at a discounted tariff of 5 percent of its customs value.

All raw sugar imported above this quota, as well as white sugar, can be imported at a rate of 30 percent of the customs value, but no less than 0.12 euros (11 cents) per ton.

The Sugar Producers' Union, a lobbying group, has proposed raising the tariff on raw sugar imported above the quota to 45 percent.

Andrei Kushnirenko, secretary of the commission, said the meeting would also examine proposals on natural gas and scrap-metal export tariffs, but decisions might not be made until the commission meets at the end of next week.

IMF Says 4% Growth


A senior representative for the International Monetary Fund in Moscow said Thursday that the IMF was maintaining its 2001 economic growth forecast for Russia at 4 percent.

IMF representative Poul Thomsen told a news conference that economic growth would not be sustainable without structural reform. Thomsem added that the IMF saw Russia's 2001 inflation target of 12 percent as "ambitious."

Norilsk Picks Builders

The Moscow Times

Metals giant Norilsk Nickel said Thursday it selected Finland's Outokumpu Oyj and Mekhanobr Engineering to build a new ore processing plant at Norilsk's Arctic base, the Dow Jones news wire reported.

The companies are expected to complete the $130 million plant by 2003, Norilsk said.

MMC Norilsk Nickel is currently conducting a controversial restructuring, unveiled last September. Under the plan, the parent company Norilsk Nickel will be taken over by MMC Norilsk Nickel and cease to exist.

Putin, WTO Meeting


President Vladimir Putin will meet World Trade Organization chief Mike Moore in Moscow on Friday, a Kremlin spokeswoman said Thursday.

Russia has said it wants to join the global trade club, but Putin said last week it was important his country received equal treatment in WTO entry talks.

The latest round of talks, which are expected to continue until the end of this year, are aimed at opening up Russia's markets and bringing legislation in line with international standards.

Pipe to Crowd Straits


A leading U.S. tanker brokerage has warned that the newly opened Caspian oil pipeline from Kazakhstan to Novorossiisk will substantially contribute to the clogging of the already crowded Bosporus.

"This level of throughput may start bumping against the upper limit of allowable tanker transits through the Bosporus," said Poten and Partners brokerage in a report released earlier this week.

Collisions are common in the Bosporus, and this led Ramazan Mirzaoglu, the Turkish maritime affairs minister, to announce Thursday that Turkey intends to step up its standards for tankers that cross the straits.

The first oil from the Kazakh-Russian pipeline, which is expected to carry an average of 800,000 barrels per day this year, will arrive at the Black Sea port at the end of June.

Reserves Pass $30Bln

The Moscow Times

The Central Bank's gold and currency reserves increased 2.38 percent to a new high of $30.1 billion in the week to March 23, Prime-Tass reported the bank's press service as saying Thursday.

The reserves passed a previous high of $29.6 billion hit Feb. 1, after beginning the year at $28 billion.

Rusagro Plans Upgrade

The Moscow Times

The Rusagro group, a major player on the sugar market, plans to invest some $30 million in updating production at the Krasnodar oil and butter plant, which it bought in March, Interfax reported the general director of Rusagro as saying this week.

"It is in a rather lamentable state despite being one of the top 10 oil and butter facilities," Vadim Moshkovich said.

The factory can process 300 tons of sunflower seeds a day as well as 70,400 tons of hydrated fats, 64,000 tons of margarine products, 15,500 tons of domestic soap and 8,000 tons of hand soap per annum.

Rusagro, which reported turnover of $400 million for last year, had previously only worked in the sugar and grain sectors until its merger with the Rosprod company, which owns the Anninsky oil extraction plant.

Rusagro, previously known as Sugar Trading Co., plans to release new margarine, mayonnaise and soap brands.

Uraltel Wins Case

The Moscow Times

The Sverdlovsk regional arbitration court decided against liquidating the region's largest cellular operator Wednesday and threw out the case against Uraltel, said Kirill Maslentsin, spokesman for shareholder Sistema Telecom.

The local branch of the Federal Securities Exchange Commission sued in January to liquidate Uraltel, citing violations in additional share issues from 1993 to 1997 and violations of shareholders' rights.

Maslentsin said that no shareholders had complained.

Sistema's daughter company, Telecom-900, is Uraltel's majority shareholder with 36.08 percent, while U.S.-owned MCT Corp. has a 36 percent stake and Telecominvest's MTT-Invest has 8 percent, according to the Vedomosti newspaper. GSM operator Uraltel has 30,000 subscribers, with GSM Ural as its main competitor.