QURGHON TEPPA, June 23, 2014, Asia-Plus -- Hearing over the case of TojikAzot, the fertilizer factory located in the Tajik southern province of Khatlon, is under way.

The main issue reportedly concerns replenishment of authorized capital stock of the joint venture by controlling shareholder.

TojikAzot is partly state owned, with the government controlling a 20 percent stake in the troubled enterprise.  Cypriot-registered Highrock Holdings Ltd, owned by Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, assumes the 75% ownership interest in the enterprise and Khairullo Saidov, the son of ex-Minister of Industry Zayd Saidov, owns 5 percent of shares in TojikAzot.

Representatives of the State Committee on Investment and State-owned Property Management (GosKomInvest) note that controlling shareholder has not replenished the plant’s authorized capital stock, which means that it has not fulfilled its obligations.

For their part, representatives of Firtash noted that the controlling shareholders had been fulfilling its obligations within the framework of agreements reached between the sides and had been purchasing new equipment for the plant in proper time.

As far as the sale of 5 percent of shares by Highrock Holdings Ltd to Khairullo Saidov is concerned, GosKomInvest representatives claim that this contract is illegal because the deal was carried out without the authorization of the Tajik government, which owns 20 percent shares in the enterprise.

Meanwhile, representative of Khairullo Saidov says the deal was legal and the document was registered with the Ministry of Justice.

Official representatives of Firtash and Khairullo Saidov has applied to court asking to stop consideration of the case because the period of limitation has already expired.

The fertilizer plant has not been in operation since 2008 due to lack of natural gas supplies. 

Until 2008, when neighboring Uzbekistan upped the price of natural gas, a key input for the factory, TojikAzot served as a foreign investment-success story for Tajikistan’s economy.

In March this year, Tajikistan’s Agency for State Financial Control and Combating Corruption announced an investigation into a 2002 deal between Dmitry Firtash and the Tajik government to create TojikAzot, a plant specializing in the production of carbamide, an organic compound used in fertilizer.

Tajik anticorruption agency says the deal was not concluded correctly and 75 percent of shares must be returned to the Tajik government.  The anticorruption agency also accuses Firtash of untargeted use of means.

We will recall that Mr. Firtash, 48, one of Ukraine’s richest men with assets in media, banking, energy and agriculture, was arrested by the organized crime unit of the Austrian police in Vienna on March 12 after a US federal court issued an arrest warrant following an eight-year investigation by the FBI.  An Austrian court set Firtash’s bail at a record 125 million euros, which he met on March 21.