November 12, 2018 / 6:16 PM / a month ago

Russian bank offers 1 bln rouble ($15 mln) bet to back denial of Rosneft financing deal

MOSCOW, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Russian state bank VTB on Monday challenged media to a legally-binding bet of 1 billion roubles ($14.79 million) over what it said were incorrect reports it provided a loan to finance the sale of a stake in Rosneft to Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

Citing nine sources, Reuters on Friday exclusively reported that VTB had provided around $6 billion to the Qatari fund (QIA) for the 10.2 billion euro deal in 2016 in which a 19.5 percent stake in Rosneft was sold to QIA and commodity trader Glencore.

VTB said it did not issue a loan to the QIA.

A Reuters spokesman said: “We stand by our story.”

VTB said in a statement on Monday it had repeatedly said that it had not granted a loan to QIA to buy Rosneft shares.

“To resolve this dispute, we suggest that media outlets disseminating this information enter into legally binding agreements with VTB: if their claims are incorrect, each of them will pay RUB 1bn to VTB Bank through a transfer to our account,” the bank said in its statement.

“VTB Group would like to once again state and emphasize that since 2014, it has not granted any loans to QIA.”

The QIA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The nine sources who told Reuters about the VTB loan to Qatar included a source close to VTB management, a Russian central bank official and a Russian government source familiar with foreign investments in Russia.

At least four of the sources were directly involved in preparations for the loan. All the sources requested anonymity because they are not authorised to discuss the deal. ($1 = 67.6200 roubles) (Reporting by Tatiana Voronova in Moscow and Dmitry Zhdannikov in London; Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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