(TASS) – The state prosecution does not see any evidence of a ‘set-up’ against ex-Economy Minister Alexey Ulyukayev allegedly masterminded by Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin in the handover of a $2 million bribe, TASS reports after the courtroom.
Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky Court is scheduled to continue hearing the parties’ arguments on Thursday in the courtroom.
“The case files confirm the impeccablility of the sting operation and any elements of entrapment are absent,” the state prosecutor asserted.
In the state prosecutor’s opinion, Ulyukayev personally turned to Sechin, demanding a bribe.
“It has been conclusively established that the proposal for the cash handover came from Ulyukayev,” the prosecutor said.
The former economy minister earlier accused Sechin of orchestrating a ‘provocation’ against him and requested that the case files be transferred to the Investigative Committee to look into this incident.
The state prosecutor, however, was skeptical about Ulyukayev’s entrapment theory allegedly organized against him to remove him from office because he opposed Rosneft’s privatization plan as being allegedly disadvantageous to the state.
“Ulyukayev put forward his entrapment theory only when presenting his arguments during the trial. However, he could have done this both during the investigative stage and during courtroom questioning. Because he was aware of this theory’s flimsiness, he resorted to it once the trial was ending so that the state prosecution would be deprived of the possibility to verify these statements and provide counterevidence,” the prosecutor told the court.
The state prosecution has rested its case. Next, the counsel for the defense will present its arguments, after which the defendant will make his last plea and the court will retire to reach a final verdict.
The ex-minister’s bribery case
Ulyukayev was taken into custody on November 14, 2016, after being caught red-handed in Rosneft’s office on suspicion of extorting a bribe from Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin. Experts found traces of a special substance on Ulyukayev’s hands, from the handle of a case where the money was marked.
As the case files indicate, in October 2016, Ulyukayev demanded a $2 million bribe from Sechin for the Economic Development Ministry’s consent to the go-ahead for Rosneft’s acquisition of a 50.08% stake in another oil company, Bashneft. Otherwise, he threatened to oppose Rosneft’s other legitimate corporate deals with ministerial roadblocks. The prosecutor noted that Sechin’s cash handover to Ulyukayev was part of a sting operation.
The ex-minister is charged under part 6, article 290 of Russia’s Criminal Code (“Large-scale bribe-taking by an official”). If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine seven times the bribe’s amount.
Ulyukayev was Russia’s first federal minister to have been detained while in office.
In November 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed Ulyukayev from his high-ranking post citing loss of trust. The ex-minister has been under house arrest ever since then.