29 Aug 2013

Criminal charges rock world potash market

The arrest in Belarus of the Russian chief executive of a leading potash company threatens to set back relationships between the two countries and disturb the global potash sector.

Minsk library Mazzzur

Vladislav Baumgertner of the Russian producer Uralkali went into Belarus on the invitation of government officials there. He could face a 10-year prison sentence after being charged with abuse of office in regards to the joint venture which his company ran with Belarus. Baumgertner's detention is a legal issue, one which should not be viewed with 'emotion or in connection with politics', the Belarus foreign ministry said, according to Bloomberg Businessweek

Four others sought

Belarus officials are seeking another four colleagues of Baumgertner. If found, these employees will be charged with conspiracy to cut the Belarus out of decision-making in the joint venture and causing losses of about US $ 100 million.

Baumgertner's arrest 'crosses every line', said Igor Shuvalov, Russian first deputy prime minister.

Potash is used by farmers to spread on drought-hit land. Income from potash represents about a fifth of Belarus income.