German Gref, the head of Sberbank, insists that he didn’t fire an analyst and his supervisor for political reasons. Speaking to the magazine RBC at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Gref said he got rid of Alex Fak and Alexander Kudrin because he was shocked by the “inconsistency of their conclusions and the facts” in a recent report that says the chief beneficiaries of Gazprom’s export pipeline projects aren’t Gazprom’s shareholders but the contractors hired to build them, which happen to be companies controlled by some of Vladimir Putin’s closest friends.
Gref says he asked Sberbank SIB to provide him with the documents on which it based its report, but he says he never received anything. Gref linked Fak’s alleged analytical messiness to his past as a journalist. (Before joining Sberbank CIB in 2008, he was a columnist for The Financial Times and Reuters.)
What happened to Alex Fak? On May 22, Sberbank SIB fired him for “gross ethical violations,” and then it fired his supervisor. The report on Gazprom leaked to the media on May 21, though it was intended only for Sberbank CIB’s clients. Fak (and another analyst who’s managed to keep her job) predicted that Gazprom’s pipeline projects will lose lots of money. The “Power of Siberia” will supposedly cost $55.4 billion, which is more than Gazprom can recover in export sales to China, leading to an estimated $11 billion in losses, Fak concluded.