CEO of SocGen Russia unit held over suspected kickbacks

Wed May 15, 2013 9:52am EDT
 
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By Katya Golubkova and Douglas Busvine

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The chief executive of Societe Generale's (SOGN.PA: Quote) Russian unit was detained on Wednesday on suspicion of taking bribes, dealing a blow to one of the few foreign banks that has dared to challenge Russia's dominant state banks.

The investigation into Rosbank Chief Executive Vladimir Golubkov in Moscow follows promises by President Vladimir Putin to crack down on corruption in business and public life as well as to defend national economic interests.

It could also alarm international companies in Russia that are wary of the weak rule of law and the state's ability to step in against businesses or individuals that fall out of favor.

Despite announcing cost cuts when it published results last week, the French bank reaffirmed its commitment to Russia, a market it entered at high cost in the past decade that has been abandoned by some Western banks.

Those growth plans could now be at risk after Golubkov's detention on suspicion of illegally accepting a six-figure dollar sum in cash and soliciting a bribe 10 times larger.

The Rosbank CEO was held "on suspicion of receiving illegal monetary compensation" totaling 5 million roubles ($160,000), the Russian Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Golubkov was also suspected of demanding a bribe of $1.5 million from a businessman to grant a loan, the statement said. A senior Rosbank manager, Tamara Polyanitsyna, was held on suspicion of being an intermediary meant to receive the cash.

Television footage released by the ministry showed uniformed offers elbowing their way into Rosbank's headquarters, then cut to a scene of Golubkov standing in his office with several wads of 5,000 rouble ($150) notes piled on the desk in front of him.   Continued...

 
The logo of Rosbank is seen in Moscow February 25, 2010. Picture taken February 25, 2010. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin