By GORDANA FILIPOVIC and MISHA SAVIC
Serbia opened an investigation into the sale of Naftna
Industrija Srbija to OAO Gazprom Neft five years after the
government signed a 30-year energy pact with Russia that
ceded control over its oil and gas market.
Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic formed a special
investigation team to examine
facts and circumstances related to the privatization of
Naftna Industrija Srbije, his ministry said by e-mail.
Novi Sad-based NIS referred all questions to the governments
of Russia and Serbia.
Gazprom Nefts press service wasnt immediately
available for comment.
The sale is coming under scrutiny as Premier Aleksandar Vucic
faces growing pressure from opposition parties to disclose
details of contracts his government reached with investors
from the United Arab Emirates since 2012, including a deal to
transfer 49% in Air Serbia AD to Etihad Airways. Both NIS and
Air Serbia are part of strategic partnership accords Serbia
has with Russia and the UAE.
Serbia sealed the agreement to sell its only refiner amid a
gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine in late 2008 and early
the following year. It sold a 51% stake in NIS to Gazprom
Neft for 400 million euros ($536 million) in 2009, when the
company had 993.8 million euros in capital.
The sale also gave the oil-production arm of OAO Gazprom 51%
in a local gas company in charge of South Stream construction
Gazprom Neft invested 500 million euros in NIS upgrades
during the following three years.
The sale was approved by Premier Mirko Cvetkovic, whose
ruling coalition in 2008-2012 included the Democratic Party
of former President Boris Tadic and the Socialists of former
Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.