Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Refinery Sees Cash Frozen in Tax Fight

Tax authorities froze the accounts of the Moscow Refinery because it owed $135 million in back taxes, but one of the plant's owners said the accounts had been unfrozen, Kommersant reported on Tuesday.

Tax officials are demanding the payment from the refinery, one of Russia's biggest, because they say it used tax optimization schemes from 2000 to 2002.

The refinery is controlled by Moscow Oil and Gas Co., of which 55 percent is owned by Moscow City Hall and 45 percent by Sibir Energy.

It was unclear whether the accounts freeze was still in place Tuesday.

Sibir's main shareholder, Shalva Chigirinsky, told Kommersant that a court had unfrozen the accounts Monday.

Kommersant said the tax claim and the accounts freeze, which came into effect Friday, could lead to a change of ownership at the refinery, while Vedomosti said Moscow could run out of fuel.

But analysts said there was unlikely to be any immediate impact on the refinery's operations.

"The company refines oil provided by its shareholders under tolling arrangements, and thus its main cash flows do not go through the refinery's bank accounts," Aton brokerage said in a research note.

Oil firms Sibneft, controlled by billionaire Roman Abramovich, and Tatneft have minority stakes in the Moscow refinery.