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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

FBI Nabs Hacker

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FBI arrested a Russian college student last week who was accused of stealing and distributing hundreds of secret documents about new anti-piracy technology from DirecTV Inc., the leading U.S. satellite television company.

The student, identified as Igor Serebryany, 19, of Los Angeles, was accused of sending over the Internet hundreds of sensitive documents describing details about DirecTV's latest "access card" technology -- credit-card devices controlling which of the company's 11 million U.S. subscribers can view particular channels.

Serebryany was charged under the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, a law so powerful that until March 2002 only the most senior Justice Department officials could authorize prosecutors to wield it. It prohibits anyone from disclosing trade secrets for economic benefit, and carries penalties in this case of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

$32Bln Surplus

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Russia had a surplus of $31.7 billion on its balance of payments in 2002, the Central Bank reported earlier this week.

Russia exported $106.1 billion worth of goods in 2002, while imports were at $60.8 billion. Exports of services totaled $12.8 billion last year and imports of services were at $21.5 billion.

Foreign Currency Law

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a bill canceling the tax on purchases of foreign currency as of Jan. 1, the presidential press service reported earlier this week.

The foreign currency tax was ineffective, the press service said. The cancellation is expected to ease the tax burden and simplify the taxation system.

Putin has signed into law a number of other bills, including changes to the law on foreign currency regulation that will allow Russian residents who are debtors to governmental agents of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member countries to keep their foreign trade proceeds on accounts in foreign banks.

Putin also signed bills on technical regulation, insurance tariffs in compulsory social insurance and changes to the Tax Code in relation to gambling, the presidential press service reported earlier this week.

Mobile Users Up 124%

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The number of cellular phone subscribers rose 124 percent to 17.480 million in 2002, the AC&M telecommunications consultancy said earlier this week.

Mobile TeleSystems had 6,400,000 subscribers as of Dec. 25, while Vimpelcom had 5,005,000 and Megafon had 2,860,000.

Rosneft in Colombia

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- A consortium led by Rosneft has begun pumping oil from the Suroriente oil field in Colombia, the state oil company said in a statement last week.

Rosneft formed the Colombia Energy consortium with Petrotesting Colombia SA and Holsan Chemicals Ltd. in 2001.

Rosneft controls 45 percent in the consortium, while the two Colombian companies control 27.5 percent each, the statement said.

The Suroriente field is expected to contain about 100 million barrels of oil.

Indonesia Arms Buy?

JAKARTA, Indonesia (Reuters) -- Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri will visit Russia in March or April, possibly to buy weapons for the armed forces.

"The visit to Russia is planned for between March and April. Regarding the agenda, we are still exploring the details. However, one possibility is the purchase of military equipment," Foreign Ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa told reporters Friday. He did not elaborate.

Sukhoi's Foreign Deals

MOSCOW (MT) -- Sukhoi Corp., the country's No. 1 fighter jet maker, delivered more than 60 military aircraft to foreign clients in 2002, general director and chief designer Mikhail Pogosyan said.

Sukhoi's 2002 export plan was carried out in full with no complaints from foreign clients, he said at a news conference. The company's primary clients are India and China.

The company exported 50 jets in 2001.

Pogosyan said exports have been earning Sukhoi more than $1.3 billion annually over the past three years and that similar yields are expected in 2003.

Sukhoi is hoping to win a Brazilian tender with its Su-35 Super Flanker, Pogosyan said.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said results for the tender for 12 supersonic fighter jets at a price of $700 million will not be announced until 2004, news agencies reported.

AvtoVAZ Output Falls

MOSCOW (MT) -- No. 1 carmaker AvtoVAZ saw output plummet more than 8 percent year on year in 2002 to 702,966 vehicles, largely due to the company shutting down its production lines to battle oversupply.

AvtoVAZ was able to boost exports 13 percent to 96,707 cars in 2002.

Andrei Kormilitsin, an analyst at Troika Dialog, said Wednesday that the company was able to boost exports by opening new plants abroad, mostly in the Commonwealth of Independent States.

AvtoVAZ announced last week that it would open three new assembly facilities, one each in Kazakhstan, Uruguay and Ukraine.

For the Record

Russian officials last month celebrated the full electrification of the legendary Trans-Siberian Railroad, the world's longest track. Officials said they hoped the electrification would boost traffic on the Trans-Siberian Railroad by up to 40 percent. (AP)

Hard currency and gold reserves fell $200 million to $47.7 billion in the week ending Dec. 27, the Central Bank reported earlier this week. (Prime-Tass)

The Services Purchasing Managers' Index edged down to 58.9 in December from November's six-month high of 59.3, Moscow Narodny Bank said earlier this week. Readings above 50 signal expansion on the previous month, readings below a contraction. (Reuters)

Gazprom began pumping natural gas through the Russia-Turkey Blue Stream pipeline on Dec. 29 as planned, Itar-Tass reported the head of a gas compressor station in the Krasnodar region as saying earlier this week. (Prime-Tass)

Power monopoly Unified Energy Systems' export revenues are expected to have risen $46 million year on year to $300 million in 2002, the company said in a statement last week. (Prime-Tass)

The government is to set up a unified automated information system controlling exports by 2007, the government press service reported earlier this week. (Prime-Tass)

Russia has agreed to withdraw from a $1.3 billion joint venture to build Vietnam's first oil refinery, state-controlled media reported last week, amid differences over acquiring technology. (AP)

The National Banking Council, the Central Bank's supervisory body, has appointed Unicon/MC consulting group as the chief auditor for the bank's 2002 financial report, the bank's public relations department reported earlier this week. (Prime-Tass)

The number of small businesses rose 4.4 percent year on year in January to September to 880,600, the State Statistics Committee reported earlier this week. (Prime-Tass)

The State Customs Committee said earlier this week that it transferred 588.25 billion rubles to the federal budget in 2002, 3 percent above target. (Prime-Tass)

Egypt will this month strike a five-year deal with Russia and Ukraine to import wheat in exchange for Egyptian products, a government minister was quoted as saying earlier this week. (Reuters)

Beer sales in Russia rose 7.5 percent by volume year on year in November, Danish brewer Carlsberg's main owner, Orkla, said Tuesday. No absolute figures were provided. (Reuters)

The port of Azov will build a new grain terminal by mid-2003 with annual export capacity of 350,000 metric tons, a senior official with the port's operators said earlier this week. (Reuters)

Beijing's Yanshan oil refinery plans to shut a crude unit in the second quarter to retool it to process Russian crudes, a company official said Friday. (Reuters)