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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Another Vyakhirev Exits Gas Business

Yury Vyakhirev, son of former Gazprom chief Rem Vyakhirev, tendered his resignation as general director of Gazexport late last week after an investigation was launched into the company's export practices.

Shortly after President Vladimir Putin criticized Gazprom management last year for letting too much money settle in the pockets of middlemen who resell its natural gas abroad, Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov announced that his office was interested in Gazexport's dealings.

Having already neutralized top executives at Gazprom subsidiary Sibur, two of whom are in custody and charged with abusing their authority, prosecutors are apparently now targeting Gazexport, which is 100 percent owned by Gazprom.

A government official confirmed last week that an investigation into Gazexport is ongoing and that Yury Vyakhirev is a target.

The source said that in the past 10 years, dozens of corporations that are friendly to former Gazprom management and current Gazexport management have been created.

These companies have been allowed to buy gas from Gazprom and sell it at a much higher price to wholesalers in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and other countries. They are now of interest to the prosecutor's office, the source said.

Yury Zaitsev, Vyakhirev's deputy at Gazexport, retired last month.

The Prosecutor General's Office declined to comment on the investigation, and neither Gazprom nor Gazexport would confirm Vyakhirev's resignation.

Vyakhirev tendered his resignation Friday, citing health problems, a highly placed Gazprom source said on condition of anonymity. One of Vyakhirev's deputies, Sergei Chelpanov, has taken over his duties.

Vyakhirev entered the gas industry as an engineer in 1980. After his father took the helm of Gazprom from long-serving Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin in 1992, he assumed various managerial positions in a number of affiliated companies, eventually becoming general director of Gazexport in 1999.

Vyakhirev earned renown after he spoke out against natural gas export duties and criticized Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref's reform plan for the natural gas industry.

Vyakhirev told Gref to take a trip to Europe to see why there is no need to separate the gas-transport section of Gazprom from the rest of the company.