Russian tycoon Viktor Vekselberg, the owner and chairman of Renova investment group, said on Monday he was surprised by a fine imposed by the Swiss authorities and intended to appeal the decision.
The Swiss Finance Department fined Vekselberg 40 million Swiss francs ($38 million) in December 2009 for allegedly breaking stock exchange disclosure rules during the acquisition of two share packages in Swiss hi-tech group Oerlikon in 2006.
Oerlikon is a global leading provider of chip assembly equipment for the semiconductor market.
"Neither we, nor our authorities found any reasonable explanations. The decision causes sincere human bewilderment. It is difficult to comment on it. The decision is unprecedented and untypical of Switzerland in all respects," Vekselberg said on the sidelines of the global economic forum at Davos.
The fine is worth almost 20% of Renova's stake in Oerlikon. Previously, the maximum fine for other companies in Switzerland in similar cases was just 50,000 Swiss francs.
The Russian tycoon, Russia's 23rd richest man with an estimated $1.8 billion, who also holds a stake in the Russian-British joint oil venture TNK-BP, said it took Swiss authorities three years to study the Oerlikon case, although information disclosures were available from the time the deal was struck.
Vekselberg also said the company received information on the fine at a time when it was holding uneasy talks with creditors on debt restructuring.
"We only have to hope that Switzerland's independent judicial system, which normally passes thoughtful and well-considered decisions, will put an end to this story," Vekselberg said.
Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin also threw his support behind the Russian businessman, saying the fine was damaging Russian investment in Switzerland and was discouraging Russian-Swiss business relations.
DAVOS, February 1 (RIA Novosti)