US Investigates Swiss-Registered RosUKrEnergo Gas Company

WASHINGTON, DC -- The US Justice Department is investigating Swiss-registered RosUKrEnergo, a company of murky ownership that supplies Russian and Central Asian natural gas to Ukraine, a newspaper reported.

RosUKrEnergo Executive Directors Konstantin Chuychenko (L) and Oleg Palchikov. The US Justice Department is investigating Swiss-registered RosUKrEnergo, a company of murky ownership that supplies Russian and Central Asian natural gas to Ukraine

Sources familiar with the inquiry told the Wall Street Journal that representatives of RosUKrEnergo and of Raiffeisen Investment AG, a subsidiary of Vienna-based Raiffeisen Bank AG that holds 50 percent of RosUkrEnergo's shares for undisclosed owners, met recently with Justice Department officials in Washington.

"They discussed the company's opaque ownership, though further details of what has drawn the attention of US officials remain unclear," the economic daily said.

In a controversial January 4 deal that doubled the price of gas in Ukraine, RosUKrEnergo was designated as the intermediary to provide the country with gas from Russia's Gazprom and Central Asian suppliers.

Ukranian President Viktor Yushchenko last week said he did not "see a reason to review" the gas deal, which was a contentious campaign issue during recent parliamentary elections.

The deal raised European Union concerns over Gazprom's plans to expand its sales. Gazprom this week warned the 25-nation EU not to politicize gas supply issues, threatening to sell fuel elsewhere if its commercial ambitions in the European market were unfairly restricted.

Doubts over RosUKrEnergo's ownership structure and affiliates prompted its auditors from KMPG International to resign in November, said The Wall Street Journal, citing a resignation letter obtained by the London-based, non-profit organization Global Witness.

"In the letter, KMPG said RosUKrEnergo may be part of a larger undisclosed business group, presenting an unacceptable risk to KPMG's reputation," the Journal said.

The newspaper said that in an upcoming report Global Witness will provide new details about the origins of RosUKrEnergo and its 15-year history of arbitrage by "opaque middleman companies given the lucrative right to sell Central Asian gas to Ukraine via Gazprom's pipelines."

Source: AFP

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