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September 27, 2021

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Russia gas firm CFO says he will fight US tax charges

Mark Gyetvay, a deputy chief of Russian natural gas producer Novatek, who was arrested last week in the United States on tax charges, said on social media yesterday that he had pleaded not guilty and would fight the charges.

“Dear friends and colleagues. On Thursday I was indicted for baseless tax charges that I already settled through a voluntary program, and pleaded not guilty. I will vigorously fight these charges and will continue to discuss gas topics as normal,” Gyetvay wrote on Twitter.

The US Department of Justice said on Thursday that Gyetvay had been arrested on tax charges related to US$93 million hidden in offshore accounts. He faces a lengthy prison sentence if convicted.

Gyetvay, who holds passports from both the United States and Russia, was subsequently ordered released on a US$80 million bond by US Magistrate Judge Douglas Frazier of the federal court for Florida’s Middle District, according to court filings.

He was also ordered to appear before Judge Frazier on September 30 for a bond status hearing.

He has been the leading voice at Novatek, anchoring conference calls with investors and representing the company at industry events as it seeks funds for liquefied natural gas projects.

“He has played an important role in the company’s strategic planning and he has been pivotal in establishing the excellent relations the company has with its shareholder base. Therefore, we expect a negative stock reaction in the short term,” Russian VTB Bank said in a note to clients.

Shares in Russia’s Novatek recovered from an early tumble on Friday after the arrest.

Novatek said in a statement it was seeking details of the arrest but added the move would not affect the firm’s operations.

After falling as much as 4 percent in early trading on Friday, shares recovered to trade slightly up by the evening.

Novatek said Gyetvay had left the company’s board of directors and the position of chief financial officer in 2014, saying that he “subsequently was not involved in financial activities of the company, including attracting financing.”

New Jersey-born Gyetvay, 64, moved to Russia in 1995, working as a partner at PwC Global Energy. Russian President Vladimir Putin granted him a Russian passport in 2019. A Kremlin spokesperson said Russian diplomats were ready to provide legal assistance to Gyetvay in the United States.


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