Volga Resources, the Luxembourg Fund of Gennady Timchenko amended the fund charter. Now Volga Resources can produce not only registered shares but also anonymous - in bearer form.
This news is particularly important when one recalls that Timchenko is the biggest seller of Russian oil, a friend of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Why would he need to make his rather obscure business even more secret? The commentary by financial analyst Andrew Sotnik follows:
This does not increase secrecy; I would say this is an introduction of extra secrecy. The activities of the Luxembourg Fund by Timchenko have always been secret enough.
For reference: Volga Resources SICAV SIF does not own anything in Russia directly. For example, the media has been often stating that the Luxembourg fund by Timchenko has a stake in Russian gas firm Novatek. Actually the stake in Novatek was bought by some Cypriot company in 2008. In Russia they argued that it is a Luxembourg subsidiary. It is unknown what it actually is.
Similarly the purchase of shares in Russian Stroitransgaz was organized; that was held through Cyprus and the Bahamas offshore; as well as the purchase of shares of Russian company "Yamal LNG”.
Against such a background, the decision of management and beneficiaries Luxembourg Stock comes - I repeat - I would rate as a desire to become extra secret.
Another question is: why is it necessary? There are more questions than answers. I think that to the management and the real owners of the trading company Gunvor have finally realized that they got into a zone of extra risk. And this is a logical consequence as the resale of Russian oil produced by Rosneft and Gazpromneft, today brings not only income, but a headache.
Courts in several countries, including England and Holland, have already issued a decision on the freezing of assets of Rosneft as an interim measure on the claims of the shareholders of Yukos. Gunvor is one of the largest traders of the oil produced by the state company. So, it could be a confidential storage of assets sheltered from the shareholders of Yukos, which they aim to arrest. So there is a real risk of seizure of assets of Gunvor companies (including the seizure of personal assets of Russian officials who had been receiving confidential "commission" from those transactions). Having the judicial decisions of the aforementioned countries it is not a big deal to obtain similar court decisions in Cyprus or the Bahamas – this is a question of technology and time. And if the court in Strasbourg takes the side of the shareholders of Yukos, then the total seizure of assets of both natural and legal persons in arrears at any offshore point of the world is possible.
Another question is whether extra secrecy reduces the risk of seizure of assets as of the Luxembourg Fund and its related companies. I doubt it. If necessary, the court of Luxembourg can easily make Volga Resources SICAV SIF show the beneficial owners of any securities, including those issued for "bearer". In addition, it is too late for encoding. It seems that the legal team working on the side of foreign shareholders in Yukos, has already made such actions meaningless. Thus extra secrecy is absolutely senseless at the moment.
There might be an explanation. The businessmen came from the Russian secret services often do what they can, despite the changed circumstances. After all, they must report to superiors regularly. It is quite frightening to report on the senseless protective measures undertaken.
Source: "Radio Svoboda”, 07/04/2010