MOSCOW, November 22 (RIA Novosti) – Russian investigators said Friday that they have charged the head of Russia’s largest potash producer with abuse of office, just as he was brought to Moscow after spending several weeks under house arrest in Belarus.
The Investigative Committee said Uralkali chief executive Vladislav Baumgertner’s activities caused substantial losses for a joint Russian-Belarusian potash company and to Belarus’ state-owned fertilizer giant Belaruskali.
Baumgertner’s extradition could spell the end of a spat that flared up between Moscow and Minsk following his arrest and subsequent fraud charges in August.
The arrest in Belarus came after Uralkali pulled out of a cartel agreement with Belaruskali, causing a sharp drop in potash prices that caused huge losses of income for the Belarusian company.
Uralkali has denied any impropriety.
Baumgertner, who insists he is innocent, was transferred to Moscow from Belarus following an extradition request. He faces up to 10 years in prison in line with Russian laws.
The Federal Penitentiary Service said Friday that Baumgertner has been placed in a pre-trial detention center in Moscow.
Earlier this week, Uralkali’s main shareholder, Suleiman Kerimov, agreed to sell his 21.75 percent stake in the company to Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim Group for $3.5 billion, Onexim said.