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Prisbelönta avslöjanden och gripande reportage från Ekots granskande reportrar.

The letter from the Vice premier minister Semashko

Published måndag 8 maj kl 15.35
KGB-agenten och oljesmugglingen.
KGB-agenten och oljesmugglingen. Credit: Collage Sofia Bergström

In this letter to president Lukashenko the then first vice premier minister Vladimir Semashko interferes in an investigation from the Belarusian Customs in order to protect a smuggling scheme of oil products.

The documents: Semashkos letter Russian, In English

Background:

 An investigation by the Belarusian customs from 2007 show that oil products are being exported under the brand name EKOLON 370 in order to avoid tax. A bit simplified: The export of oil products - light distillates such as gasoline is subject to an export duty.

In the investigation, the Belarusian Customs stops a train that according to paperwork is filled with Ekolon 370. Customs code 3811 (No export duty). They send product samples to labs in Russia in Belarus.

The labs conclude that it is a light distillate that should have been given the code 2710 (export duty)

According to paperwork from the exporting company Chess Bel in 2007 alone 19 000 tons of the anti-knock additive Ekolon is exported to Estonia and then further to Antwerpen in Belgium and Togo in Africa.

An investigation from the Estonian customs show that all the exported goods from Chess Bel that comes in at code 3811 (no export duty) is in the harbor changed to 2710 (export duty) and named “Russian unleaded gasoline” Lab reports from an Estonian lab also show that  it concerns a light distillate: “Gasoline” it say in the report.

These findings are summarized in a report sent to Semashko by the Belarusian customs committee.

However. Given the overwhelming proof that Ekolon 370 should be taxed as an oil product Mr. Semashko arrives at a different conclusion. In order to prove his point Mr. Semashko, is referring to a military lab in Belarus.

However, we have seen a report from the same lab that verifies that Ekolon 370 is indeed an oil product, contrary to what the minister say.

The letter also suggest that the state concern Belnefthekim is involved in some way, since the concern is used to confirm Semashkos position.  

Semashko also suggest that the customs authorities were wrong to send samples to Russia and refers to the Belarusian military lab as “independent”.

It is worth taking in to an account that in a country with an independent legal system a minister is not allowed to interfere in an investigation or a court case in the way Mr. Semashko does.         I

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