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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gutseriyev Spared Seizure of Assets

The Tverskoi District Court on Monday denied an Interior Ministry request to freeze the assets of billionaire Mikhail Gutseriyev, who stepped down last week as head of Russneft amid a tax evasion probe.

"The court received a request from the Interior Ministry's investigative committee, reviewed it and denied it," said Anna Usachyova, chief spokeswoman for the Moscow City Court. "So the funds have not been frozen."

She could not immediately comment on the reasons behind the ministry's request or the court's decision to deny it. Interior Ministry spokespeople were not available for comment late Monday.

Gutseriyev, who is worth $2.9 billion according to Forbes, said last week that "unprecedented hounding" by the authorities had led him to sell Russneft. Later in the week he retracted the accusation. Basic Element, owned by Kremlin ally Oleg Deripaska, has said it is in talks to buy the company.

The Federal Tax Service has targeted Russneft with a total of eight lawsuits against 11 companies that are or have been shareholders in the oil firm, the country's seventh-largest. On July 23, a Moscow court upheld a 3.4 billion-ruble ($134 million) lawsuit against the firm on tax evasion charges.