Russian ex-economy minister assumed he was getting ‘wine’ gift, lawyer says

MOSCOW, October 12. /TASS/. Former Economy Minister Alexey Ulyukayev accused of extorting a $2 mln bribe believed he was getting a gift containing a bag of wine, his lawyer Daridjan Kveidze told TASS on Thursday.

"Ulyukayev was sure that this bag contained wine, not money. Earlier (Rosneft CEO Igor) Sechin promised to treat Ulyukayev to the wine that he had never tasted in his entire life," the lawyer said.

During Thursday’s hearing, the court watched video recordings of the alleged bribe taking incident and also audio recordings between Ulyukayev and Sechin.

Earlier, the court questioned 12 out of 30 witnesses against the defendant, including officials of the Economic Development Ministry, the Federal Agency for State Property Management, the director general of the VTB Capital bank, the former driver, an FSB employee and former Rosneft’s Security Chief General Oleg Feoktistov.

Ulyukayev was Russia’s first federal minister to have been detained while in office. He was taken into custody on November 14, 2016, while allegedly receiving a $2 mln bribe in exchange for the Economic Development Ministry’s consent to give the go-ahead to oil major Rosneft’s acquisition of a 50.08% stake in another oil company, Bashneft, and was put under house arrest. Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed Ulyukayev citing a loss of confidence.

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