Russian law enforcement agencies search one of tycoon Gutseriyev's companies: reports

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s interior ministry and the Federal Security Service on Wednesday searched the Moscow office of oil company Forteinvest headed by Said Gutseriyev, son of tycoon Mikhail Gutseriyev, two leading business newspapers reported.

Forteinvest is a controlling shareholder in Russian oil refineries Orsknefteorgsintez and Afipsky, and is part of a wider Safmar group of companies, the umbrella Gutseriyev’s family business.

Three sources working at Forteinvest confirmed the searches to Reuters but could not say who the people were. One of the sources said that several people accompanied by a number of masked people were taking out documents in the Forteinvest office in central Moscow.

“Staff was told they may leave for home, except for bosses,” the first source said.

Russian business daily newspapers Kommersant and Vedomosti, citing their sources, said that the searches were jointly conducted by the interior ministry and the Federal Security Service.

Both newspapers said that searches were also conducted in other companies linked to Mikhail Gutseriyev.

The Russian Investigative Committee and the Federal Security Service did not immediately reply to Reuters’ requests for comments. A spokesman for the Russian interior ministry said he did not have immediate information about any searches.

In a statement on its web-site, Safmar said that the media reports did not “correspond with reality”, adding that “law enforcement bodies do not have any claims to the companies of the group”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call on Wednesday the Kremlin was unaware of the searches.

Other Safmar assets include mid-sized oil producer Russneft RNFT.MM, M.Video electronics retailer MVID.MM, A101 real estate developer, as well as assets ranging from coal and potash to the financial sector and hotel business.

Reporting by Ludmila Zaramenskikh, Olesya Astakhova, Anton Zverev, Gleb Stolyarov, Tatiana Voronova, Maria Tsvetkova and Anton Kolodyazhnyy; Writing by Katya Golubkova; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise