13 Sep 2010 13:00

Bashneft says Audit Chamber probe not affecting operations

MOSCOW. Sept 13 (Interfax) - Bashneft said a probe of the privatization of fuel and energy companies in Bashkortstan that are currently owned by the Sistema holding was not affecting the oil producer's operations.

"We stand for transparent relations with the state. There are no matters that we can conceal with respect to the state. We always welcome such things," Bashneft's president, Viktor Khoroshavtsev, told a press conference.

Audit Chamber chief Sergei Stepashin said last week that the Chamber would investigate the privatization of the Bashkir fuel and energy cluster. "Over the course of an extended period the former leadership of Bashkortostan allowed significant deviations from federal law and numerous financial violations to occur," Stepashin said.

"This situation will not affect operating activity as those issues that were raised do not apply go Bashneft as it is today. We're ready to provide all paperwork that is requested," he said. "Any other questions should be put to the company's shareholders," Bashneft's Khoroshavtsev said.

A previous Audit Chamber check "turned up serious understatement of the tax liability at Bashneft and the petrochemical complex, which led to the actual loss of control over the main state oil company in the internal republic," Sergei Stepashin said last week at a conference in Ufa.

"Alas, Bashkortostan has in fact lost its property. You know who sold it, how and for how much. The Audit Chamber will diagnose who, what and how much was paid and where the property went," Stepashin said.

"Evidently, the time has come for a new comprehensive check of not only the budget, but all financial and economic activity, including effective use of the republic's property. The Audit Chamber has set itself that goal," he said, adding that primarily this concerned the Bashkir fuel and energy companies.

Sistema took over the Bashkir fuel and energy companies, including several oil refineries and petrochemicals plants, last year, intending to form a vertically integrated oil company around Bashneft.