Russian ex-minister Ulyukayev gets 8 years in prison for extorting $2 mln bribe

Russian ex-minister Ulyukayev gets 8 years in prison for extorting $2 mln bribe
# 15 December 2017 12:03 (UTC +04:00)

Former Russia’s economy minister Alexey Ulyukayev on Friday was sentenced to 8 years in high security prison for extortion of a $2-million bribe, RAPSI reported from Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky District Court.

Additionally, the court fined Ulyukayev 130 million rubles (about $2.2 million) and deprived him of the right to hold public offices.

A judge held that Ulyukayev demanded money from Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin for approval of a deal on privatization of Bashneft oil company’s shares. Ex-minister, who had pleaded not guilty, comprehended the consequences of his “socially dangerous acts.” His involvement in the bribery has been proven by witnesses’ testimony and other examined evidence, the judge stated.

The court regarded Ulyukayev’s words about his innocence as attempt to evade criminal liability.

The ruling will be appealed, defense lawyers for the former minister said.

Before starting a sentencing hearing Ulyukayev told journalists that he believed in justice and hoped for acquittal. The former minister also accused Sechin of false denunciation.

On December 4, a prosecutor demanded a 10-year term in a high security penal colony and a 500-million-ruble fine (nearly $8.5 million) for Ulyukayev. Defense asked the court to acquit ex-minister.

Ulyukayev was arrested on November 14, 2016, when leaving the office of Rosneft oil company. The Federal Security Service’s (FSB) officers found a bag holding $2 million in cash in his official car.

Ulyukayev was charged with extortion a grand bribe. According to the Investigative Committee, he threatened to create obtrusions for Rosneft with the use of his position. On November 15, 2016, he was put under house arrest. Later in the evening, President Vladimir Putin relieved Ulyukayev of his post because of loss of trust.

Ex-minister stated that the case was fabricated. The defendant noted that there was a provocation, orchestrated by the Federal Security Service (FSB) and that there was no sound evidence in the case, aside from testimony provided by Sechin.

Trial of Ulyukayev began in mid-August. The court questioned 15 witnesses including the Economy Ministry officials, Ulyukayev’s driver, Rosneft employees, journalists and FSB officers.

Sechin was summoned for interrogation four times but he failed to appear in court. A judge refused to read out his testimony given during pre-trial investigation.

Over 564 million rubles ($9.5 million) and 15 property items belonging to the former minister have been seized by court.