- Print This Post Print This Post

Compiled by John Helmer in Moscow

The Financial Times
Gunvor, Putin and me: the truth about Russian oil trader

May 22 2008 03:00
From Mr Gennady Timchenko.

Sir, Your article “On the offensive” (Analysis, May 15) purported to explain the rise of the oil trader Gunvor. However, it contained many inaccuracies and false claims. In fairness, your reporter attempted some balance, allowing our chairman to challenge some of the falsehoods. I would like to challenge some that went uncontested.

The article devoted much space to me as one of Gunvor’s founders. You wrongly suggest that ties between me and the former Russian president, Vladimir Putin, underlie Gunvor’s success. In fact, media suggestions about the extent of any ties between me and Mr Putin are overblown.

Take, for example, the 1990s company Golden Gates, described in the piece as “the only company found by the FT in which both Mr Timchenko and Mr Putin participated”. There is a misleading ambiguity about the use of the word “participate” so let me be clear: my connection with Golden Gates was so slender as to be virtually non-existent.

I was a state employee at the time in question. I worked at a place called Kirishineftekhimexport. This state-owned company took a stake in Golden Gates with the St Petersburg mayor’s office, where Mr Putin then worked. I was not involved in that arrangement. My closest involvement was on one occasion being asked to brief a team at the mayor’s office, which included Mr Putin, about what types of product might be handled at a refurbished refinery were the scheme to proceed. Your article refers to me having had a company that was a “beneficiary of a large export quota under a scandal-tainted oil-for-food scheme set up by Mr Putin …” Again – not me. The company which took the quota was once again state-owned Kirishineftekhimexport, where I was an employee. I was not involved in this scheme. I do not recall any scandal. My recollection is the company did deliver food as promised.

Your article states that Mr Putin and I became “so close” that we founded a judo club together. Again – not quite right. It is true that I together with three other businessmen sponsored a judo club where Mr Putin became honorary president. That is as far as it goes – yet time and again, the media wrongly jump to the conclusion that the judo club connection means that Mr Putin and I are “close”, then leaps into conspiracy-theory mode.

Your article also carries unwarranted suggestions that my success in the oil business has somehow been built on favours. For example, you mention the Hermitage Fund and its report suggesting that between 1999 and 2003 Surgut sold oil to Kinex (where I did have a stake) at $35 a tonne below the market price. This never happened. There was no selling of oil at such a discount or anything like it. Fair prices were paid.
My suspicion is that the Hermitage Fund estimate confuses the price paid for oil at the refinery, and the price paid at the terminal. The former price is of course lower than the latter because transport and other costs have yet to be added. It is striking that the cost of getting oil from the Surgut refinery (some distance from St Peterbsurg) to the terminal in Estonia stood at about $28 a tonne, with transhipment costs at the terminal amounting to another $7.

The tenor and overall impression given by your article was wrong. My career of more than 20 years in the oil industry has not been built on favours or political connections. Furthermore, Gunvor is what it seems: an efficient oil trader, built over 10 years on the back of superior logistics, transport, reliability and price. When it comes to price – ask our rivals and study our record in open tenders. The truth is there for all to see.

Gennady Timchenko,


Correction: Russian oil

Dec 18th 2008
From The Economist print edition

In our special report on Russia (November 29th), we said that “Rosneft sells the bulk of its oil through Dutch-registered trading firm, Gunvor.” In fact Rosneft sells only an estimated 30-40% of its oil through Gunvor. Other aspects of the article are the subject of a legal complaint by Gennady Timchenko and Gunvor.


From The Sunday Times
March 1, 2009
Correction: Gennady Timchenko

In our article How the oligarchs lost billions (Magazine, last week) we stated wrongly that Gennady Timchenko is a close friend of Vladimir Putin and is a former KGB agent. The true position is that, though Mr Timchenko and Mr Putin do know one another, the relationship is more one of casual acquaintanceship than of friendship or of the two men being “close friends”. Mr Timchenko has never been a member of the KGB nor any other Russian security service. We are happy to set the record straight and apologise to Mr Timchenko for the error.


Gennady Timchenko and Gunvor International BV

Jul 30th 2009
From The Economist print edition

In a section of our special report on Russia entitled “Grease my palm” (November 29th 2008) we referred to Gunvor and its cofounder, Gennady Timchenko. We are happy to make it clear that when we referred to the “new corruption” in today’s Russia, we did not intend to suggest that either Gunvor or Mr Timchenko obtained their Russian oil business as a result of payment by them of bribes or like corrupt inducements. Rosneft sells only 30-40% of its oil through Gunvor rather than the “bulk” of Rosneft’s oil (as we described it). We accept Gunvor’s assurances that neither Vladimir Putin nor other senior Russian political figures have any ownership interest in Gunvor. We regret if any contrary impression was given.


Суда не будет

Давний знакомый Владимира Путина Геннадий Тимченко передумал судиться с журналом The Economist, упомянувшим его компанию в статье о коррупции
Ирина Резник
Виктория Сункина
30.07.2009, №140 (2410)

«Геннадий Николаевич [Тимченко] поддался эмоциям, — объясняет близкий к нему бизнесмен, — позже выяснилось, что слушания по этому делу будут открытыми и придется раскрывать информацию о бизнесе и партнерах. К этому он не был готов. Мировое соглашение — лучший выход». «Вся информация о ведении бизнеса, активах и партнерах станет общедоступной, не каждый бизнесмен на это пойдет», — согласен партнер Baker & McKenzie Владимир Хвалей.
“Gennady Nikolayevich [Timchenko] gave in to emotions, — explained a businessman close to him — later it was found out that hearings on this case would be opened and it will be necessary to disclose information about the business and partners. He was not ready to do it. The amicable agreement is the best way out”. “All information on business, shares, and partners will become known to the general public, not every businessman will do that” — agreed Vladimir Khvaley, a partner of Baker & McKenzie.


Leave a Reply