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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chubais-Remezov Battle Moves Into Courtroom

The high-voltage feud between Unified Energy Systems chief Anatoly Chubais and Alexander Remezov, who he is trying to remove as head of Mosenergo, took a new twist Wednesday with each side claiming victory.

A Kemerovo court barred an Aug. 31 Mosenergo extraordinary shareholders meeting, which Chubais said he wanted to use to sack Remezov, who he has accused of financial mismanagement.

The court's decision follows a lawsuit filed Tuesday by Andrei Voronkov, a minority shareholder of Mosenergo, which is 50.87 percent controlled by UES. Voronkov could not be located and the nature of his complaint was unclear.

UES, however, said that the Mosenergo board of directors Wednesday approved a list of five candidates to replace Remezov and signed off on that decision 20 minutes before court bailiffs arrived to declare next month's scheduled shareholders meeting invalid. Because Wednesday's board meeting was part of preparations for next month's extraordinary meeting, Mosenergo board chairman Anatoly Kopsov said in a press release that the bailiffs were too late, invalidating the court decision.

UES board member Andrei Trapeznikov insisted that Wednesday's meeting was valid.

The five candidates are current Mosenergo executives Andrei Vagner and Arkady Yevstafiyev, former Komitek head and current ESN-Energo director Grigory Beryozkin, Orenburgenergo chief Yury Trofimov and the incumbent Remezov — put forward by the Moscow city government.

Chubais asked Remezov to step down two weeks ago after a routine internal audit uncovered what was described as financial abuse — including 270 million rubles ($9.22 million) of missing profits. Chubais said the audit had given rise to "serious grievances" about its subsidiary's activities and an extraordinary shareholders meeting would seek to elect a new general director.

Remezov denied the allegations, saying the audit was designed as a tool to oust him. "It looks like certain commercial structures have been pressing for my resignation after we put an end to offset settlements," Remezov said.

He said Mosenergo sells about $10 million worth of electricity a day, payments for half of which were performed through offsetting, with a middleman getting 20 percent — or $1 million a day.

Remezov said Mosenergo commissioned UES-approved auditor Vneshaudit, the Moscow Audit Chamber and the state Audit Chamber to conduct separate audits. The Vneshaudit audit, a copy of which was obtained by The Moscow Times, found no irregularities.

Andrei Abramov, an energy analyst at NIKoil, said Mosenergo was one of Russia's most successful utilities with no real problems to speak of and that the attack on Remezov is due to his opposition to Chubais' plan to restructure the national power grid.

Mosenergo produced 26.6 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in the first six months of the year, up 3 percent from the same period last year, according to the company's sales and distribution chief, Vitaly Kuzmin.

He said that the energo supplied customers with 25.3 billion rubles worth of electricity and thermal power in January through June, with a collection rate of 109.5 percent of sales, which includes debt payments.

"The era of nonmonetary payments is over," Kuzmin said.