The CEO of Russia’s largest oil company, whose secret recordings landed former economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev behind bars on bribery charges, made a rare court appearance Thursday after failing to respond to four court summons.
Ulyukayev was handed an eight-year prison sentence in December 2017 for soliciting a $2 million bribe from Rosneft oil giant CEO Igor Sechin. Sechin had secretly recorded conversations with Ulyukayev as part of a 2016 sting operation in the high-profile case.
On Friday, the RBC business portal reported that Sechin appeared at a closed-doors Moscow City Court hearing on the state prosecutor’s request.
The hearing had to take place behind closed doors “to preserve the company secrets of Rosneft,” it cited the prosecutor as saying.
“We’ll be talking about the purchase of a stake in the Bashneft oil company,” RBC cited the prosecutor as saying. Ulyukayev was charged with extorting the $2-million bribe from Sechin in return for approving Rosneft’s takeover of rival Bashneft.
Ulyukayev and his defense team attempted but failed to persuade the court to hold an open appeal hearing.
“The court cannot set unequal conditions for the sides. I’m shocked,” the Mediazona news website cited attorney Andrei Grivtsov as saying before everyone was ushered out of the courtroom.