MOSCOW (Reuters) - The chief executive of Russian oil giant Rosneft (ROSN.MM), Igor Sechin, will not attend court hearings on Nov. 22 to act as a witness in ex-economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev’s trial, TASS quoted a Rosneft spokesman as saying on Tuesday.
Ulyukayev is on trial on charges of extorting a $2 million (1.5 million pounds) bribe from Sechin, in exchange for Ulyukayev’s approval of a business deal. Sechin was called to court to testify but has missed the first two court sittings since then.
Ulyukayev denies the charges.
“As everyone knows, he (Sechin) is on a business trip to Khanty-Mansiiysk, so it’s hard for him to appear in court .... In fact, it’s an event scheduled by the prime minister - this ... had been coordinated long in advance,” Mikhail Leontyev was quoted as saying.
Analysts say the case is politically charged because Sechin represents a powerful faction in the Kremlin that favours greater state control over the economy. He has clashed with a group of economic liberals in the government that included Ulyukayev.
Ulyukayev, who has already accused Sechin in court of framing him, was detained on Nov. 14 last year at Rosneft’s Moscow headquarters, moments after Sechin handed him the cash in a late-night meeting that, according to prosecutors, was designed to catch the minister in the act of accepting a bribe.
Reporting by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Dmitry Solovyov and Matthew Mpoke Bigg