KIEV, March 31 The Kiev government wants control
of the Odessa oil refinery to return to Ukrainian hands,
interior minister Arsen Avakov said on Monday.
Russian newspaper Kommersant said earlier this month that
the refinery's previous owner, Vetek, transferred the plant to
Russia's VTB bank after failing to repay the loan which it had
received to buy it from Lukoil last year.
Avakov said the refinery was now controlled by a Russian
bank, which he did not name.
Vetek is owned by tycoon Serhiy Kurchenko who amassed a
large fortune under the presidency of Viktor Yanukovich, who was
removed from power last month.
Ukraine's prosecutor general issued a warrant for Kurchenko
arrest earlier this month, on suspicion of stealing state
Kurchenko also left Ukraine last month and Avakov said that
police had seized thousands of tonnes of refined oil products
belong to his companies.
Ukrainian regional officials reported this month that
Russia's largest oil company, Rosneft, could buy the
"We have uncovered a plan to transfer the Odessa refinery
from Kurchenko's company to a Russian bank," Avakov said on his
He added the government would launch a "bid to return the
ownership of the plant to Ukraine."
VTB, VETEK and the Odessa refinery were not immediately
available for comment.
The refinery, designed to process 3.6 million tonnes of
crude oil per year (70,000 barrels per day), suspended oil
processing from late February. It also said it planned
maintenance in March.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, editing by Tom Bergin)