Belarus ready to hand over Uralkali CEO but wants compensation

21 October 2013 23:20  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Belarus said on Monday it is prepared to turn Uralkali CEO Vladislav Baumgertner over to Russia if he will accept paying for the damages inflicted to the state-owned potash producer Belaruskali.

At the same time the Baumansky District Court in Moscow, Russia, issued an arrest warrant for the fertilizer executive who was arrested in Minsk on 26 August based on charges that he had abused his authority as chairman of the trading venture between Uralkali and Belaruskali.

Belarus authorities including President Alexander Lukashenko have been trying to get Russian officials to agree to extradite Baumgertner under the condition that the Uralkali boss be tried for the alleged crime of what was initially deemed abuse of power but has since been upgraded in Belarus to a charge of embezzlement.

Baumgertner was released from a jail facility in September and transferred to house arrest pending the completion of the criminal investigation.

Last week the Russian Investigative Committee announced it was filing abuse of office charges against Baumgertner and that the agency would be submitting documents for the extradition. Political observers have speculated that Baumgertner would likely not face any substantial repercussions from the charges if indeed the case ever comes to trial in Russia.

The very public spat has had a rippling impact on the potash market but over the last month Lukashenko has tried to bring some calm to the situation, saying both countries should focus on restoring the cartel, as it would help reverse the direction of the potash market, namely pricing.

Speaking to state media on Monday Lukashenko said he wants to see Baumgertner pay for the economic woes caused to his nation but that the primary goal should be to resolve the conflict and attempt to reform the trading relationship.

“We are ready to collaborate if that’s what Russia wants. Let’s reach agreements, let’s work together. I would like our Russian partners to be people who are interested in the production and transparent sales of potash fertilizers,” said Lukashenko. “We are not against going back, even tomorrow, but on the principles of agreements that we have reached so that everything is transparent and honest.”


By: Mark Milam
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