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    Naftogaz supervisory board seeks CEO suspension


But the company's in-house lawyers support Vitrenko's appointment

by: William Powell

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Naftogaz supervisory board seeks CEO suspension

The newly-reconvened supervisory board of Naftogaz Ukrainy is seeking the suspension of CEO Yuri Vitrenko following talks with key government officials, chair Clare Spottiswoode said in a statement June 16. She said she would convene a board meeting to discuss the matter following the decision by the anti-corruption agency NACP that his appointment broke the law.

Vitrenko says the decision was wrong and that a court would justify his appointment, a view shared by company lawyers, the company said. But Spottiswoode said his suspension was in the interests of both Naftogaz and Ukraine. Prime minister Denis Shmyhal will decide whether to terminate the contract no later than ten working days after June 15, Spottiswoode said.

Vitrenko said that the supervisory board had not discussed the NACP order with him and said earlier that the NACP had wrongly applied the law.

NACP head Oleksandr Novikov said in a press interview that there was no conflict of interest at stake. But the law bans a person who made decisions involving a business entity to lead that business entity for a year after the resignation. Vitrenko had been acting energy minister immediately before his surprise appointment.

Naftogaz' legal team also said the order did not not comply with law and further that if it were followed in full, then the  decision empowering the economy ministry to sign contracts with supervisory board members was also wrong. Justice minister Denys Maliuska said the NAPC order would be challenged in court in the near future.

The supervisory board resigned in late April following a strongly-worded protest at the government's sacking of CEO Andriy Kobolev but the team has since been re-engaged.