The trial of Rajabali Odinayev, the owner of Umed-88, one of Tajikistan’s largest gas retailers, and Idibek Ibrohimov, the director of the company, is expected to begin at end of this week or at the beginning of the next week.

“The trial will be carried out behind closed doors as the UMed-88’s case has been classified as “secret,” as source at the Law enforcement authorities told Asia-Plus Monday afternoon.  He refrained from giving further details.  

Recall, the case of Umed-88 moved to the Supreme Court of Tajikistan in the second half of May.

Umed-88 top manager Rajabali Odinayev was arrested right after President Emomali Rahmon harshly criticized him during a meeting with local businesspeople.   

President Rahmon noted on October 14, 2017 that Umed-88 had some years ago received a 170 million somoni loan at 18 percent interest rate with facilitation from the Ministry of Finance, but that the company had failed to pay the money back.

“Sixty million somoni of this money have gone to paying off debts to Tojiksodirotbonk (TSB), and 25 million has gone to Amonatbonk.  The rest he [Odinayev] just spent for his own needs.  He should answer before the law.  Government money is the money of the people,” the president said.

It is to be noted that the 18 percent interest rate is considered relatively preferential compared to what is offered by Tajik banks.  For comparison, the weighted average interest rate for loans in the national currency is 30.46 percent.

After president’s criticism directed at the founder of gas retailer Umed-88, workers started to take down Umed-88 signs across the country. People at gas filling stations say the stations now belong to another company.  They refrain to name the new owner of the Umed-88 chain of gas filling stations.  

According to some sources, criminal proceedings have been instituted against Rajabali Odinayev under the provisions of four articles of Tajikistan’s Penal Code: Article 247 – fraud; Article 289 – smuggling of goods; Article 292 – tax evasion; and Article 340 – document forgery.   

Umed-88, which was one of the country’s largest chains of gas filling stations, had been engaged in supplying fuels to Tajikistan and selling oil products in the country for more than twenty years.  It had more than 70 gas filling stations across Tajikistan.

Until last year, Umed-88 along with Gapromneft-Tajikistan, Tajik Petroleum and Aurum Spika had been on the list of companies dominating Tajikistan’s fuel market.  In 2017, the company was removed from the list as its share on the fuel market of Tajikistan fell.