Today in Russian Business – Feb 25th, 2009

The Prosecutor General’s Office has opened an investigation into the possible misuse of billions of rubles of government funds by the state-controlled Russian Venture Company, which reportedly has deposited most of its capital in the accounts of overseas corporations rather than using it to spur investment and innovation.  Reports that France’s Carrefour is seeking to buy Sedmoi Kontinent may bolster Russia’s retail market, although there has been no confirmation.  In an attempt to avoid cutting jobs, AvtoVAZ will send all employees not directly involved in car production on leave next month, at two thirds of their salary.  Evraz says the worst case scenario is that it would be forced to lay off nearly 2,000 workers by April at its steel and iron ore plants in the Ural mountains.  A manager at the Central Bank says the government has given 400 billion rubles to the banking industry since the beginning of the crisis. Reports suggest real wages have dropped 6.9% from the same period last year.  Many hedge funds are avoiding investing in Eastern Europe and Russia after heavy losses last year, says Forbes.  LDV Group, the British company owned by Oleg Deripaska’s GAZ Group, has been refused a request of £30 million ($44 million) in aid from the British government.