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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prosecutors Pay Visit to Sibur

Petrochemical giant Sibur's offices became the latest focus of prosecutors' attention Tuesday in a search that may have been part of President Vladimir Putin's crackdown on corruption in business.

The exact reason for the search in the offices of several executives, which was reported by Interfax, wasn't known. The company declined to comment, and prosecutors would not confirm or deny the report.

But the Prosecutor General's Office has long been used by the Kremlin to root out corruption in industry, which despite privatization on paper remains closely connected to politics. That's the case with Sibur, which although privatized is majority-owned by the extremely powerful state gas monopoly Gazprom.

Russia's largest petrochemicals producer, Sibur -- or the Siberian-Ural Petrochemical and Gas Co. -- was established in 1995 by presidential decree to stem the disintegration of the petrochemical industry in Russia. The main block of Sibur shares was first sold in an open tender in 1998, and the company's management was totally replaced in the privatization.

Sibur makes and sells everything from liquefied petroleum gas to synthetic rubber and tires.

The company said the prosecutors' action Tuesday was just a normal check and shouldn't be called a search, Ekho Moskvy radio reported.

Searches by prosecutors are fairly common in the rough-and-tumble world of Russian business, and the energy sector is particularly prone to corruption due to immense flows of money in one of the country's most profitable industries.

Konstantin Reznikov, an energy analyst with Alfa Bank, said the Sibur search might not necessarily result in any charges. He said the action could have been motivated by Gazprom itself, in line with the company's desire to install new management at Sibur.

If prosecutors "have no clue as to what's happening in the company or what taxes the company is paying, they might use these raids as a method of pushing a company to do something," Reznikov said.