MOSCOW Jan 14 The head of Russia's oil pipeline
monopoly Transneft [TRPRO.UL] denied allegations of a $4 billion
embezzlement connected to the construction of a $25 billion
pipeline, the biggest infrastructure project in Russia.
In November, activist shareholder Alexei Navalny said that
about $4 billion was embezzled during the construction of the
East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline, Russia's lifeline to
the fast-growing markets of Asia. [ID:nLDE6BS19Q]
Nikolai Tokarev, the head of state-owned Transneft, said on
Friday the grounds for Navalny's allegations were inaccurate.
"This figure is not accurate. How did he (Navalny) calculate
the damage? He said that he calculated it by extrapolating,"
Tokarev said in emailed comments to Reuters.
"All the abuse cases during the ESPO construction were
discovered by Transneft itself and sent to the Audit Chamber,
which valued the damage at 3.5 billion roubles ($117 million),"
Navalny said he stood by his allegations.
"This is not my wild guess," he said, adding his
calculations were made from Transneft documents he posted on a
In November, Sergei Stepashin, the head of Russia's State
Audit Chamber, a parliamentary financial watchdog said the
matter was under investigation but that the losses were smaller
than the $4 billion claimed by Navalny.
Russia's Investigation Committee was not immediately
available for comment.
The first stage of the pipeline opened on Jan. 1 and is
sending 300,000 barrels of oil a day to China.
Once complete in 2013 the 4,070 km pipeline will be the
world's longest. [ID:nLDE6A91GN]
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by Sharon Lindores)