Laptops Snowden Took To Hong Kong, Russia Were A ‘diversion’

There have been structural improvements, but the specific corporate governance scandals this year have been striking, Westman, whose firm manages about $4 billion and is the worlds largest Russia-focused money manager, said today by phone from London . Its the worst year since after the crisis in 2009. Prosperity and investors including Templeton Emerging Markets Group and Allianz Investments are contesting a move by OAO Rosneft (ROSN) , the worlds biggest publicly traded oil producer, not to buy out minority shareholders in oil producer TNK-BP. President Vladimir Putins government is struggling to lure foreign investors to counter capital outflows due to corporate governance disputes this year at TNK-BP, OAO Pharmstandard, Russias biggest drugmaker, and OAO Uralkali, the worlds largest potash producer. Russias benchmark Micex Index (MOSBIRZ) trades at the cheapest levels of all major emerging-market indexes. 27 after Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin said his company may buy back minority shareholders at a premium. Until then, Sechin had resisted minority investors demands, saying at Rosnefts annual general meeting in April that Rosneft was not a charity fund. Disappointing Offer Rosneft has approved a buyout at 67 rubles a common share and 55 rubles for preferred shares in RN Holding. Sberbank CIB analysts said the offer was disappointing for investors as they estimated Rosneft paid about $3.70 a share, or about 120 rubles a share, to London-based BP Plc (BP/) and a group of Russian billionaires in a $55 billion cash-and-share deal. Westman said Prosperity hasnt received the offer. We will want to see a buyout offer that is higher, but some investors had given up and didnt think we get anything, he said. Alexander Branis, chief investment officer at Moscow-based Prosperity, advises the Kremlin on corporate governance and will shortly submit proposals on mandatory offers for minority shareholders, according to Westman. As part of our work trying to make Moscow into an international finance center, we are coming up with proposals to strengthen the hand of minority shareholders, he said, without going into specific details. Hermitage Capital Hermitage Capital, once Russia s largest portfolio investor, shut its Russia fund in March as its founder, Bill Browder, was being sued for libel in London and tried in absentia for tax evasion in Moscow.

Russia refuses to bail two Britons held for Greenpeace protest

Briton Kieron Bryan (R), a Greenpeace International commissioned freelance videographer, attends a bail hearing at the Regional Court of Murmansk October 11, 2013. REUTERS/Dmitri Sharomov/Greenpeace/Handout via Reuters

The court, in the northern port city of Murmansk, has already denied bail to four Russians held for the September 18 protest in which a Greenpeace ship was boarded by security forces close to an oil rig in the Arctic. The piracy charges – punishable by up to 15 years’ jail- appear aimed at sending a message that Moscow will not tolerate attempts to disrupt its development of the resource-rich Arctic that Greenpeace says could destroy a pristine environment. Other countries and companies are seeking to exploit Arctic energy resources and face similar concerns from environmentalists. A Finnish minister resigned on Friday over a row about a Greenpeace protest last year. Putin has said the activists were not pirates but that they had violated international law. The head of the Kremlin’s advisory body on human rights has said he would ask prosecutors to withdraw the piracy charges. Kumi Naidoo, head of Greenpeace International, has written to President Vladimir Putin asking to meet him and offering to stand as security in Russia for the release of the activists on bail. Putin’s spokesman said the letter, published in Western media on Wednesday, had not yet arrived at the Kremlin, and said it unlikely to affect the legal process. “(Putin) probably cannot get involved in a discussion about the investigative activity that is taking place,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters. MINISTER RESIGNS Investigators have said more charges will be pressed against some protesters after drugs and other suspect items were found on the boat, the Arctic Sunrise. Greenpeace denies there were illegal items aboard. Greenpeace, whose activists tried to scale the Gazprom-owned Prirazlomnaya rig, says the protest was peaceful and calls the piracy charges absurd and unfounded.

McGovern said Snowden made it clear at their Wednesday meeting that there was “nothing on” his laptops. The former CIA analyst had traveled to Russia to give Snowden an award for “Integrity in Intelligence.” The other Americans who went with him were Coleen Rowley, a former FBI agent; Jesselyn Radack, a former Justice Department official; and Thomas Drake, a former NSA official who the U.S. government had prosecuted for allegedly leaking secrets about an NSA project called “Trailblazer.” In a telephone interview from Moscow, McGovern said Snowden told him that Drake was the “model” for his decision to leak U.S. secrets. The government eventually dropped all but a relatively minor charge against Drake, to which he pleaded guilty. McGovern said Snowden had “no regrets at all and he said it very convincingly.” Snowden is “well protected” but also said he “can do pretty much what I like” and can “get out and about,” according to McGovern. He declined to discuss where and how they met with Snowden, but he said that they had to pass through metal detectors before the meeting and that Snowden appeared to be attended by some kind of official Russian security detail. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his close collaborator Sarah Harrison, a British journalism student who has been helping Snowden, played a major role in arranging for the meeting, McGovern said. Harrison remained with Snowden as he spent several weeks in legal limbo in a Moscow airport transit zone, and stayed in Russia after he was granted temporary asylum. McGovern said that at his Moscow hotel, he met Lon Snowden, Edward’s father, who traveled this week to try to see his son. He said Edward Snowden indicated an eagerness to re-connect with his father. The Russian news agency Interfax on Friday reported that Edward and Lon Snowden had “quite an emotional meeting” at an undisclosed location.