Confidential diplomatic dispatches that were prepared by the US Embassy in Bratislava, released by WikiLeaks, show that US diplomats secretly helped the previous Slovak government headed by Robert Fico to buy back 49 percent of the shares of the Transpetrol company, the Sme daily wrote on May 17. At that time those shares were owned by the bankrupt Yukos Oil Company, and the US feared they might get into the hands of the Russian state-owned oil company Gazprom, Sme wrote.
After the Russian government accused Mikhail Khodorkovsky of fraud and started liquidating his Yukos company, Gazprom began gradually absorbing the company’s assets. US representatives may have been afraid that Russia and Vladimir Putin would control all the gas flowing to Europe, Sme wrote, adding that in 2006 the US Embassy in Slovakia hired an oil consultant from Texas and began to advise the Slovak government how to best buy back the former Yukos shares. According to the WikiLeaks documents, an inexperienced Slovak government did not know how much to pay for the shares.
Former Economy Minister Ľubomír Jahnátek (Smer party) rejected the claims about secret cooperation between US diplomats and the Slovak government, the SITA newswire wrote. The contract for purchase of Transpetrol shares between Yukos International UK B.V. and the Slovak Economy Ministry was concluded on March 26, 2009 with a purchase price of $240 million.
The spokesman for the US Embassy, Chase Beamer, said that it was no secret that the US was interested in energy security for Slovakia, offering advisory and consultancy services in many areas, while adding that his statement was not directly related to the issue of the truthfulness of any of the information leaked by WikiLeaks.
Source: Sme, SITA
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
17. May 2011 at 14:00