The case of Baring Vostok, which did not end with the release under the house arrest of Michael Calvey, threatens to ruin Russia's relations with French business. Compatriots of Baring’s partner Philip Delpal, who, like the other persons involved in the case, remained in the SIZO, refuse to travel to Russia and threaten with the suspension of investment projects. Patrick Puianne, general director of oil and gas Total, who invested more than $ 10 billion in Russia, raised the issue twice to Vladimir Putin, the Financial Times found out.
The largest investor is against. Patrick Puianne twice raised the issue of Delpale’s arrest in a conversation with Putin - during a personal meeting and at a meeting of French company leaders with the Russian president on April 18, she learned FT from businessmen lobbying for the release of an investor. The CEO of Total, however, noted that the attitude to Delpal will affect how investors perceive Russia, “because investment requires trust”.
The words of Puianne have weight in the Kremlin, notes FT. Total is one of the largest Western investors in Russia. The company owns 16.5% of Novatek and a stake in its projects - 20% of shares in Yamal LNG and 10% in Arctic LNG-2. Total Total has invested $ 10 billion in non-gas projects in Russia, Puyanne said in 2018.
Freeze investment. Last week, several major European business associations publicly called for the release of Delpale and other persons involved in the Baring case from custody. French businessmen cancel their trips to Russia and are preparing to freeze investment plans in the country's economy. “We all know that the charges are groundless. This is Russia's problem, and they must find a solution for it, ”said a FT source familiar with the plans of French businessmen.
Before implementing plans related to Russia, businessmen first want to see whether Baring Vostok’s partners will be released, said FT head of the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Emmanuel Kidé, who participated in the meeting with Putin. The situation may become clearer after the next court hearing in the Delpale case, which will be held in May. All 600 French companies operating in Russia are waiting for this decision, and in case of a negative outcome, they can raise the level of protests, writes FT.
Non public protest. The decision to transfer the house arrest of the founder of Baring Vostok, Michael Calvey, was preceded by protests by the US authorities, and the American delegation led by Ambassador John Huntsman threatened to boycott the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. French officials, on the contrary, did not speak out openly in support of Delpal - perhaps because they and businessmen do not want to politicize this matter, FT sources say.
Putin and the case of Baring Vostok. Vladimir Putin speaks about the arrest of partners Baring Vostok with caution. Through his press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, he said that he did not intend to interfere in the course of the investigation. In February, in a closed meeting with editors-in-chief of the Russian media, Putin referred to the position of the FSB, which does not consider that this is a simple corporate conflict. But since then, the position of the president could have changed - in early April, sources surrounded by Michael Calvey told The Bell that more than a dozen of his influential friends had applied for a businessman, and in the Kremlin "it seems they heard the arguments in his defense." A few days after this, Calvi was transferred to house arrest.
Background Calvi and other defendants in the case were detained in Moscow in February on charges of embezzling 2.5 billion rubles from Vostochny Bank. About the one who is behind the criminal prosecution and the essence of the claims of the prosecutors, The Bell told in detail here. The fact that Calvi can be placed under house arrest, The Bell was told at once by seven people. For Calvi asked too many people, it seems, “the ice is broken,” said one of them. The court left four other defendants in the SIZO, extending their arrest until July 14.