How Sechin tempers budget steel | Latest news The Moscow Post
22 January 2021

How Sechin "tempers" budget "steel"

The new project of Rosneft to build a metal rolling plant in Primorye does not seem to be needed by the market, but it will be very useful to Head of the state corporation Igor Sechin, because it can be given $2.2 billion from the budget.

As the correspondent of The Moscow Post reports, a new metallurgical plant will appear in the Primorsky territory in the Russian Far East to provide the Zvezda shipyard with rental services. This decision was made by Rosneft under the leadership of Igor Sechin. The latter had already visited the President the day before, where he announced the cost of the project - $2.2 billion.

The merchant wants to get money from the budget, because Zvezda is a state project. Sechin is not bothered by the fact that steel is already delivered to the shipyard from South Korea, or that Russia has enough of its own steel rolling capacity to provide Zvezda.

Experts believe that Sechin's initiative may be an attempt to pull out and allegedly even "divide" additional funds. As if multibillion investments in the shipyard itself are not enough - in 2015 alone, they were estimated at 145 billion rubles. Recall that the project for its construction is carried out by a consortium led by Rosneft. And the project has a huge number of problems.

"Sawing place"

Many people call it "Igor Sechin's sawing place". Of course, it is not known about the latter's involvement in theft, but it is known that at least 7.5 billion rubles could have been stolen there. This was established by law enforcement agencies as part of an open criminal case back in 2018, PASMI wrote about the situation.

Then the former General Director of the The Far Eastern Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Center (FESRC), Igor Borbot, whom detractors called Sechin's man, was under investigation. And how could it be otherwise, if the construction of Zvezda is conducted on the basis of the FESRC? In any case, Borbot managed to escape to the United States: they say, allegedly, not without the help of Igor Ivanovich.

Most likely, Borbot had already left the United States, because in the same year another key person involved in the case, Alexey Boytsov, was deported from the United States to Russia. He later pleaded guilty to making illegal banking transactions with funds intended for the construction of the shipyard on paid basis.

Scandals at Zvezda began even before that. The opening of the criminal case was preceded by a Prosecutor's check. In 2015, Yuri Trutnev said that 4 billion rubles could have been stolen at Zvezda (later the amount increased). Forbes wrote about this.

In 2012, the Director of Zvezda, Yuri Shulgan, was under investigation - he was given a suspended sentence for embezzlement of 29 million rubles. Later, another Director of Zvezda, Andrey Rossomakhin, also came under criminal prosecution, and Vladimir Averin, who replaced him, hastened to resign himself (after the scandal with the fire at the Tomsk nuclear power plant in 2013).

As a result, by the end of 2014, seven criminal cases had already been initiated on the facts of fraud at Zvezda. This was reported by Novaya Gazeta.

At that time, scandalous oligarch Roman Trotsenko could be involved in the situation. In 2009-2012, he headed the United Shipbuilding Corporation, under whose patronage the construction of the shipyard was initially located.

Not enough money for Zvezda for Sechin, give more for the factory?

In 2014, after Trotsenko left USC, the company during an internal audit found a hole in the budget of the Amur shipbuilding plant in front of contractors for 14 billion rubles - the money allocated for this did not reach the plant for some reason. This was written by Kommersant.

But Trotsenko was neither hot nor cold about it. After all, he previously served as a curator of offshore projects of the Rosneft state corporation and was (and many believe that he still remains unofficially) an adviser to its President Igor Sechin. Nothing is scary with such a "patron", isn’t it?

But, apparently, Zvezda is not enough for Sechin. The idea to create a metal rolling plant near the shipyard is not new, attempts to do this were made in 2016. To do this, Sechin contacted another odious rich man, oligarch Iskander Makhmudov and his Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company (UMMC). Together, Sechin and Makhmudov created a joint venture between Rosneft and UMMC Eastern Mining and Metallurgical Company (EMMC).

It was planned to build a plant on its basis in 2016. But Sechin's plans were dashed: it was not possible to get funding from the budget, and the head of Rosneft apparently did not want to invest on a parity basis with Makhmudov. As a result, Makhmudov allegedly did not want to pull the project alone, especially in the market it was not necessary, as Vedomosti wrote.

It is possible that now Makhmudov will cooperate with the new Rosneft plant as a supplier of raw materials. At the same time, it will be possible to supply raw materials at inflated prices, because the budget pays for everything, won’t it?

It is important that Sechin needs support not only for the construction of Zvezda itself, but also for the steel production plant for it. At a recent meeting with Vladimir Putin, the oligarch also asked for help in building infrastructure - roads, housing for future factory workers. RBC wrote about this.

And why is Rosneft needed, which will receive profits from the new plant? Is it possible that the state corporation with already budgetary funding can't spend its money, or is it only needed to buy jeeps for management?

That's right: according to the authors of the Vostok.Today website, allegedly in 2015, Zvezda needed a jeep for 2.5 million rubles with a complete set that included 24 attributes. Then it was about Toyota Land Cruiser for the top management of the shipyard. Why be shy if the state pays?

Sagacious Sechin?

Sechin was insistent not only about roads and rolled metal. We are talking about ordering gas carriers for Leonid Mikhelson's Novatek projects to load the Northern Sea Route. As a result of this confrontation, Zvezda ordered 15 LNG tankers for Novatek. And this is under one very important condition: if the company exports the extracted gas by Russian gas carriers produced exclusively at the Zvezda shipyard. This was written about by Kommersant.

For a long time, Michelson sought the opportunity to order tankers elsewhere, in particular, in South Korea. There, the price is lower, and it would not be necessary to coordinate his actions with Sechin. But it didn't work out - did Sechin's position play a role?

Then they said that Mikhelson had nowhere to go, because the owner of Novatek had already launched the fourth line of the Yamal LNG plant by 2019. However, Novatek was given a "bone" in the form of state subsidies for the construction of gas carriers for Zvezda with a total amount of about 50 billion rubles. The allocation of subsidies was reported by the head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, his words are quoted by the Oil Capital newspaper.

In other words, gas carriers are sold to Novatek at the market price, although the cost of their construction at Zvezda should be higher than in South Korea. The shipyard's managers are so effective. And the difference for Zvezda, apparently, is covered by the budget, which is formed from our taxes.

Igor Sechin is a master of lobbying

But Zvezda is not only like a feeder. This is an image project, and work is underway there. What, it seems, can not be said about the scandalous Vostok Oil project, for which Sechin is not averse to knocking out new allocations. For many years, the project was only on paper, but together with the idea of the plant, Sechin told Putin that Vostok Oil had finally moved on. This is reported by Kommersant.

It is not surprising, because Sechin managed to attract a new investor there: the Singapore oil trader Trafigura was attracted to the project of national importance for the development of deposits on the Taimyr. According to rumours, this company has done a lot to help Rosneft circumvent Western sanctions, so why not get reliable partners to develop the national treasure of Russia?

Sechin knows how to be friends (just do not remember Ulyukayev and the sausage basket). Trafigura is not just "lit up" in the corruption scandals. According to the Prime publication, in 2018, the Venezuelan oil state Corporation PDVSA, among other companies, accused Trafigura of corruption. Allegedly, a criminal case was even initiated in Switzerland on these charges.

Against the backdrop of these lobbying successes, Sechin seems like an unsinkable Titan. And this is despite the fact that many in Russia consider him to be the guilty for a large-scale oil crisis, during which oil prices collapsed along with the revenue part of the Russian budget.

According to Novaya Gazeta: "the reason for the collapse was the price war in the oil market, unleashed by Saudi Arabia against Russia after the collapse of the OPEC+ negotiations." Recall that the key role in the negotiations was played by Igor Sechin, as a representative of the largest state-owned oil company in Russia.

It is not reported whether the income of Igor Ivanovich decreased after this, but the budget suffered huge losses. How much more will we lose from investing in an essentially useless metal rolling plant in the bay next to Zvezda?

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