Serbian police to probe privatisation of state oil firm NIS

Вторник, 12 августа 2014 12:21 MSD

By Ivana Sekularac

BELGRADE Aug 12 (Reuters) - Serbian police are to investigate the 2008 privatisation of state oil company NIS , now majority-owned by Russia's Gazprom Neft , the interior ministry said.

Gazprom Neft bought a 51 percent stake in the NIS monopoly for 400 million euros ($534 million) in 2008, under a Serbian government led by the current opposition Democratic Party.

Some politicians at the time said the sale grossly undervalued NIS. It coincided with the climax of a drive by Serbia's former southern province of Kosovo to secede, with Serbia relying on ally Russia's veto in the Security Council to block any U.N. endorsement of a declaration of independence.

"A special investigative team will examine all the facts and circumstances regarding the privatisation of NIS," the ministry said in a statement late on Monday.

The sale was part of a wider energy deal between Russia and Serbia, which included a commitment to build the South Stream pipeline through Serbia and construction of a gas storage facility since completed.

A spokeswoman for NIS said the sale "is a matter of agreement between the two countries".

"The matter should be resolved between the two countries," she added.

Serbia is in the middle of a dispute between the European Union, which it wants to join, and Russia's South Stream project, with the EU effectively blocking construction in Serbian neighbour Bulgaria. (1 US dollar = 0.7485 euro) (Editing by Dale Hudson)