Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg, who owns controlling stakes in Swiss industrial group Oerlikon and Sulzer, paid 10 million Swiss francs (10.4 million dollars) as compensation to avoid an investigation by authorities, Reuters reported citing the Ministry of Finance of Switzerland.

The supervisory authorities in Switzerland examined the facts of possible violations of disclosure rules by Vekselberg and two other investors when increasing their stake in Sulzer, however, they discontinued the investigation after the payment of compensation.

In September, Swiss court found the billionaire guilty under a similar investigation into the increase of his stake in Oerlikon. Vekselberg then faced fines of 40 million francs.

Let us recall that in December of the last year, the Swiss Federal Department of Finance issued a decision imposing fines on investors that participated in the acquisition of shares in the Swiss group Oerlikon for the total amount of 120 million Swiss francs (about 125.1 million dollars at current exchange rates). Vekselberg was fined 40 million francs, which was almost 20% market value of Renova’s share in Oerlikon.

The Directory accused Vekselberg and co-owners of the Foundation Victory - two Austrian businessmen Ronnie Petsik and Georg Stumpf - in cahoots with the purchase of assets in Oerlikon. According to Swiss authorities, Renova had to disclose information that it had been acting in concert with Victory, but did not do so when buying 10.25% shares in Oerlikon from Victory.

The group of companies Renova is a private business group, which owns and manages assets in the metallurgical, oil, mining, chemical and construction industries, energy, telecommunications, high-tech engineering, utilities and financial sector in Russia and abroad (in the CIS countries, Switzerland, Italy , South Africa and the USA).

The biggest assets of Renova are the shares in TNK-BP, UC Rusal, IES, as well as in Swiss technology group Oerlikon and Sulzer.

At the beginning of this year Renova controlled over 56% of the equity of Oerlikon, but after the debt restructuring of the Swiss company the share of Renova as of June fell to 49.6%.

In January last year, the Department of Finance of Switzerland (DFF) sentenced Viktor Vekselberg to a fine of 40 million Swiss francs for violating the law on disclosure of information when buying shares of Swiss technology company Oerlikon, reminds with reference to Le Temps.

However, a new feature of the case developed when Russia had repeatedly appealed to the Swiss economy minister Doris Leytard and the president of Switzerland Hans-Rudolf Merz, the newspaper notes. The defendants, together with Victor Vekselberg who had disputed his sentence, were former President of Oerlikon Georg Stumpf and his former partner, Ronnie Pechik who owned shares in Oerlikon through the fund Victory. Each of them is also facing the 40 millionth fines, the newspaper said.

As noted by reporter Daniel Eskenazi, the high amount of penalty for violation of the law on disclosure of information on the acquisition of shares is unprecedented in Switzerland. "Until now, fines for violations of the disclosure of information about the transaction had never exceeded 50,000 francs", the publication cited the words by Lorenz Erni, lawyer of Viktor Vekselberg. During the three-hour speech at the trial the counsel proved the inconsistency of the Prosecution’s arguments.

The task of judges in preparation for the trial was to find out if there was any collusion between the persons involved in the case. Three investors tried to convince the judge that they had had different intentions. Viktor Vekselberg said that "the company Renova and the Victory Fund had been conflicting all the time”:" We are industrial investors focused on long-term perspective. Victory, by contrast, prefers short-term investments. We have never had common goals ", the edition quoted.

Within a few weeks a verdict should be ruled, which will became a test for the Federal Commission for the banks (Finma), which filed a complaint with the DFF in June 2007.

Source: on October 19, 2010