Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko claimed on Tuesday Russian big business had offered a $5 billion bribe for selling the national potash producer Belaruskali below its real value.
“They proposed we sell Belaruskali for $15 billion: $10 billion to the treasury and $5 billion for me at an account I’ll designate,” Lukashenko said.
Lukashenko said Moscow oligarchs had sent a Russian friend to him with the offer, but did not name those involved.
In mid-2011, Lukashenko valued Belaruskali at $30 billion.
Today Belaruskali is worth $30-32 billion but “some oligarchs want to buy it for $15 billion,” he said.
Last year, the Belarusian authorities announced plans to privatize parts of some large enterprises, including wholly state-owned Belaruskali, one of the world’s largest potash producers and suppliers.
Leading Russian fertilizer producer Uralkali, whose core shareholder is Suleiman Kerimov, wanted to buy Belaruskali for $14 billion, but the Belarusian government set the price at $30 billion and the deal fell apart.