Author`s name Pravda.Ru

Russian Interior Ministry won't confirm reports about audit of tycoon Vekselberg's businesses

The Russian Interior Ministry won't confirm the reports about an audit of businesses owned by the tycoon Viktor Vekselberg, known to the Western world as the buyer of the largest private Faberge collection.

Speaking to reporters Saturday, Lieutenant General Sergei Veryovkin-Rakhalsky, Deputy Interior Minister in charge of the ministry's Federal Service for Economic and Tax Crimes, said that inspections may be carried out by some other law-enforcement agencies, bound with Mr. Vekselberg's companies by contracts or some other agreements.

The Interior Ministry has confirmed to RIA Novosti, however, that in late June it audited the Mongoose Service security agency, which provides security services for one of Viktor Vekselberg's firms.

From 1990 up to the present time, Mr. Vekselberg is the Board Chairman of the US-Russian joint venture Renova. In 1996, he founded the Siberia -Urals Aluminum Company, known by its Russian acronym, SUAL, and was the group's Chief Executive Officer through 2003. In January 2003, he became SUAL Board Chairman. Today, this group incorporates twenty-one businesses in eleven regions across Russia. In 1998, Viktor Vekselberg became Deputy Chairman of the TNK oil corporation, subsequently transformed into TNK-British Petroleum. From 2002 up to now, he is TNK-BP Board Chairman.

This past April, Mr. Vekselberg bought the Faberge egg collection from the Forbes family, who were initially going to put it up for sale at Sotheby's auction. The collection includes 9 eggs and 180 other jewelry items by the famous jeweler Carl Faberge; many of the pieces were made by him on the Russian Imperial House's commission. A spokesperson for the Russian tycoon described the purchase as a "humanitarian and patriotic act."

Neither side has agreed to disclose the deal's worth, however. Sotheby's specialists put the collection's value at 120 million dollars. According to a connoisseur of auctioneering practices, the revocation of lots is not a usual practice for the Sotheby's House. The amount received by an auctioneer in such cases may be a double of the initial price of the lot in question. Sotheby's decision to withdraw the Faberge collection implies that the sum of money offered for it by Viktor Vekselberg was twice as much as its original price tag, the expert concluded.