March 19, 2013 / 6:25 PM / 5 years ago

Novorossiysk Port CEO steps down during investigation

MOSCOW, March 19 (Reuters) - The head of Russia’s Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port Rado Antolovic has temporarily stepped down while he faces a criminal investigation into claims he failed to repay a loan.

The Russian government intends to privatise a 20 percent stake in the port - a major outlet for oil and grain exports on the Black Sea - later this year..

“I took a decision to put aside the functions of general director of the NCSP Group during the time of the criminal case opened against me,” Antolovic said in a statement provided to Reuters by a Novorossiysk Port representative.

“It’s obvious that the head of a company must devote himself 100 percent to resolving the tasks of the company, which I can’t do now for understandable reasons.”

The port representative did not say who would stand in for Antolovic.

On March 15, Russia’s Investigative Committee said it had opened a criminal case against Antolovic for allegedly failing to repay a $1.5 million loan while acting head of the firm.

Antalovic has denied all wrongdoing, a position that he reiterated in his statement on Tuesday.

He was acting head before becoming chief executive in April last year at the company, where he had been embroiled in a dispute over investment between two major shareholders that was settled in a compromise deal late last month.

Russian state-owned oil pipeline operator Transneft and investment and trading company Summa Group together hold 50.1 percent of the port through a joint venture.

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