MOSCOW Dec 23 The Russian government is in
control of cash on the books of state holding company
Rosneftegaz and spending from those reserves is "absolutely
transparent", President Vladimir Putin said on Friday.
Rosneftegaz, which has stakes in oil giant Rosneft
and gas monopoly Gazprom, among other assets,
transfers only part of the dividends it receives to the state
budget, keeping the rest on its own accounts and prompting
criticism from the finance ministry.
It is chaired by Igor Sechin, a powerful Putin ally who is
also chief executive of Rosneft. Rosneftegaz held the equivalent
of 472 billion roubles ($7.71 billion) in cash at the end of
2015, according to a November research note by Raiffeisenbank.
Putin told a press conference the government treated
Rosneftegaz's money as a cash reserve and used it to fund
certain things. These included some science and education
spending in 2015 and 2016, as well as aircraft construction and
some other projects, he said.
"It is absolutely transparent and all under the control of
the government. We finance some things from there," Putin said.
Rosneftegaz this month sold a 19.5 percent stake in Rosneft
to a consortium of commodities trader Glencore and the Qatar
Investment Authority (QIA), a sovereign investment fund, for a
total of 692 billion roubles.
Glencore and the QIA were expected to contribute only a part
of the funds for the deal, with the bulk to be provided via a
loan from Intesa Sanpaolo and other banks.
Last week, Rosneftegaz said it had received proceeds from
the sale. Intesa later said it was still evaluating its
potential involvement in the financing, raising questions over
the sources of cash transferred to the budget.
Putin said on Friday the state budget had received a payment
from the QIA and Glencore for the Rosneft stake. He did not
provide other details.
($1 = 61.2359 roubles)
(Writing by Peter Hobson and Katya Golubkova; Editing by Mark