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Business Week: Russia regulator’s documents confiscated

The Associated Press/MOSCOW

OCT. 18 2006: ET Russian organized crime police confiscated documents from an environmental regulatory agency Wednesday, but denied the search was connected with the agency’s ongoing probes at a Royal Dutch Shell PLC-led development or other energy projects.

Russian news agencies quoted the Interior Ministry’s organized crime department as saying that documents had been confiscated at Rosprirodnadzor in connection with an investigation into the Yuzhno-Tambeisk gas field, where state-controlled gas monopoly OAO Gazprom is in a dispute with a local company over licensing.

“Since Rosprirodnadzor issues the licenses to gas deposits, documents that formed the grounds for issuing the license were confiscated as part of a criminal case,” the Interfax news agency quoted a police spokesman as saying. “The main thing is that the inquiry is not being directed against Rosprirodnadzor itself.”

Rosprirodnadzor’s deputy chief Oleg Mitvol told AP that officers were taking documents pertaining to business trips made by two of the agency’s employees.
“So far they are doing everything in line with the law,” he said.

Mitvol has overseen a series of high profile probes at Shell’s Sakhalin-2 liquefied natural gas project and fields held by OAO Lukoil and OAO Rosneft — Russia’s No. 1 and No. 3 oil producers respectively.

Environmental pressure at the Shell development has been interpreted by analysts as a drive to reshape the deal in the Kremlin’s favor, though Russian officials vehemently deny this.

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