Allied Domecq may suffer a damaging blow after the Russian press today reported that The Russian Audit Chamber is in favour of withdrawing the trademark rights for the vodkas Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya from Soyuzplodimport because they were illegally removed from state ownership in the first place.

The Audit Chamber has apparently prepared the relevant report for the Russian government after an audit on the privatisation of Soyuzplodimport.

The Russian news service Interfax said in a story today: "The Audit Chamber College noted that after the foundation of the joint stock company Soyuzplodimport in 1992 and the transfer of property belonging to the all-union foreign trading association of the same name the illegal removal of state property occurred. This property includes trade names for Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya."

The results of the audit could deal Allied Domecq an embarrassing blow after it clinched the ten year distribution rights for Stolichnaya in the US market in a deal with Soyuzplodimport. The rights had been owned by Allied's arch rival Diageo who analysts believe lost the rights because of its preference to focus on its own brand Smirnoff.

A spokesman for Allied Domecq told that it was in the best interests of the brand for Allied to remain as the distributor.

He said: "I haven't seen an official statement, I have only seen what Diageo has said and it looks like a case of sour grapes to us. We are not expecting the revoking of Soyuzplodimport's trademark rights and my understanding is that this is not going to effect what we are doing."

He concluded that the company had investigated the position of Stoli before the deal was made and was "confident Allied's position was sound".