Lost in accounting: Right Cause and Mikhail Prokhorov

Michail Prokhorov (RIA Novosti / Ilya Pitalev)
The Right Cause party must return 701.4 million rubles (22.8 million dollars) to the party’s former leader Mikhail Prokhorov, according to his press service. He also believes that the party is preparing a scheme not to refund the investments.

­Mikhail Prokhorov, Russian billionaire and owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, headed the pro-business political party from June 25 to September 15. When approved as the Right Cause leader, Prokhorov managed to attract significant funds to the party, which included private donations, as well as his own investments.

During a party convention in September, Right Party members voted for Prokhorov’s removal from office. This led the businessman to demand back his party investments, which were intended for the parliamentary election campaign.

Initially the sum was set at 500 million rubles (16.2 million dollars), eventually increasing to 701.4 million rubles (22.8 million dollars).

Prokhorov claims that “specially trained people” are working to keep the funds in the hands of the party.

Acting chairman of the party, Andrey Dunaev, has refuted the allegations, calling the statement “nonsense.”

“All in all, there were around 730 million rubles on the party’s account when Mikhail Prokhorov was its head,”
Dunaev said. “Of this amount about 40 million has been spent.”

“According to a Sberbank statement which we received immediately after we got access to the account, the balance accounted 730 million rubles. It might be the total sum donated to the party when Prokhorov was its leader,” Right Cause spokesperson Yarosalv Volpin explained. “The party accumulated a great number of financial obligations,” under Prokhorov, Volpin continued.

The funds will be returned to donors taking into account the necessity to settle unpaid debts, which includes at least one contractor, he added.

On October 20, Right Cause will hold a meeting of the political council which will consider all the refund requests from donors. Although removed from his leadership position in the party ranks, Mikhail Prokhorov still remains a Right Cause member.

Meanwhile, he has filed a request for exclusion from the party ranks. As Dunaev told Kommersant daily, that request would probably take effect immediately.