Charges against Uralkali CEO modified to embezzlement

11 October 2013 22:34  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Belarus authorities announced on Friday that the criminal complaint against Uralkali CEO Vladislav Baumgertner have been changed from abuse of power to a charge of embezzlement.

The modification of the complaint increases the potential prison sentence that the Russian is facing to 12 years from 10.

The fertilizer executive was arrested on 26 August in Minsk on charges that he had abused his authority as chairman of the trading venture between Uralkali and state-owned potash producer Belaruskali.

Baumgertner was released from a jail facility in September and transferred to house arrest but remains under the authority of Belarus law enforcement pending the completion of the criminal investigation.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko told state media on Friday that both countries should focus on restoring the cartel as it would help reverse the direction of the potash market, namely pricing.

“When Russians asked me what to do I said we should reinstate this cartel immediately. The price for potash fertilizers will soar two times at once. Why don’t you want to do this? Because there are other nuances there,” said Lukashenko.

Last month, Lukashenko said he was open to the idea of sending Baumgertner back to Russia if the Belarus government is assured that the charges against him were to be taken seriously by the Russian legal system.

He further said that while the split from the trading venture has hurt his country's economy, he estimated that it has impacted the Russian side even greater.

“You have lost twice as much," Lukashenko said of Russia. "We have already started recovering."

By: Mark Milam
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