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January 26, 2023

‘Lukoil affair’: Act III, but not last

Although yesterday we though the ‘Lukoil affair’ had come to a fortunate end, after the decision announced by the management of the Petrotel Lukoil refinery to restart installations that had been stopped at the beginning of the week, it turns out things did not end there.
Hastily arriving from Moscow, the Vice-President for refineries, marketing and distribution of the Russian Lukoil group, Vladimir Nekrasov, said in Ploiesti, on Wednesday, that he and the Romanian prosecutors had made an agreement for settling the situation. He went further, adding that, by Friday (today – a/n), the management of the oil group would decide if they would close Petrotel or not.
Mr. Nekrasov met with the prosecutor who investigates the Petrotel case, Deputy Prime Minister Liviu Dragnea and the Minister Delegate for Energy, Razvan Nicolescu.
‘We have reached some compromises we will report on tomorrow (Thursday – a/n) to the Lukoil management. If the Lukoil management agrees, we will restart the refinery. If not, we won’t. We believe that the USD 700 M worth of taxes we have paid so far this year can be considered as enough collateral’, Nekrasov said.
Nekrasov noted that Petrotel’s strategic stocks of crude and oil products – 100,000 tons of crude oil and about 60,000 tons of petrol and diesel fuel – were currently seized. All the assets of the refinery are frozen and so is the debt owned by Lukoil Romania to Petrotel.
The Prosecutor’s Office of Ploiesti Court of Appeal last week conducted searches at the headquarters of Petrotel Lukoil Ploiesti, Lukoil Energy&Gas Romania, Lukoil Lubricants East Europe, Lukom-a-Romania Agency and TP LOG Services, all based in Ploiesti. The estimated damage in the case is RON 1.039 bn (EUR 230 M): EUR 112 M from tax evasion and the rest from money laundering.
Petrotel Lukoil CEO Andrey Bogdanov has been placed under judicial control, being under criminal investigation for tax evasion and money laundering.
After the meeting of the Superior Council of Magistracy yesterday, the Prosecutor General of Romania, Tiberiu Nitu, said the announcement that ‘unless you lift the seizure tomorrow, we will be out of here’ puts pressure on the prosecutor and intimidates him.

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