Khodorkovsky Pleads Not Guilty before Court

The news is already being reported by AFP, the AP, and the BBC.  Below is his full statement to the court, as well as some of the slides he presented which show that the charges brought by the prosecutors fail to demonstrate any criminal act.  Read more about today’s events in court at

To the Khamovnichesky District Court of the city of Moscow
to Federal Judge V.N. Danilkin
M.B. Khodorkovsky

(in relation to guilt under the charges that have been brought)

I will formulate how I have understood them after all the indistinct explanations. If I make a mistake, – I ask the court to correct it.


The charge of theft in the period from 6 through 12 November of theyear 1998, of blocks of shares in subsidiary companies belonging toVNK, entrusted to me by the owner, in secret from the owner, undercontract (Art. 160 (3)).

I do not admit myself guilty, because:

  1. The will of the owner existed, expressed in a valid contract.
  2. None of the shareholders contested the contract.
  3. Shareholders, auditors, and state agencies had been informed (the latter by myself personally among others).
  4. The swap agreement was right from the start not final, but a REPO, i.e. with a reverse swap, which was carried out in 2001.
  5. The contract was not one without exchange for value, but a swap, i.e. with reciprocal consideration, having a market value.
  6. The objective of the transaction was not seizure without exchangefor value, but a temporary exchange with the objective of protectionfrom a raider.
  7. I, as representative of the main (parent) company, controlled thesafekeeping of the property and approved its use in the interests ofVNK and with mediation – of YUKOS. VNK had no other will, besides myown, and it could not have one by law.
  8. Damage, even in the form of foregone benefit, was not caused. TheRFFI [Russian Federal Property Fund] included the shares mentioned inan assessment of the VNK block during its realisation in the year 2002,various other shareholders performed the exchange of their shares forYUKOS shares and never contested this exchange. And now they can not -YUKOS is no more.

The charge of «laundering» the registered shares of VNK subsidiaries in the period from 1998 through 2000.

I do not admit guilt, because my professional experience guarantees theimpossibility of me having intent to «conceal the source of origin» ofthe controlling block of registered shares, all the more so by way oftheir transfer per accounting records in the register.

My intent – protection of the blocks from a raider attack – isordinary, understandable and corresponds to the real factual steps. Asthe representative of the main (parent) company, I had the right togrant or approve the authority to realise these steps. My managementdecisions are not contested by anybody, while in connection with theliquidation of VNK 5 years ago they can no longer be contested. And onthe contrary, they are confirmed by many years’ worth of implicativeactions of other shareholders, including the state, with respect to theapproval of annual reports, with respect to the realisation of thegiven property in open tenders – both within the composition of VNK in2002 and separately in 2007.


With respect to the charge of theft of the oil of YUKOS from 1998through 2003 by way of «transfer onto the balance-sheet» of entrustedproperty in secret from the owner (slides 4, 9).

Guilty I do not admit myself, because the fact of the seizure (physicalremoval from possession) and/or the conversion (i.e. segregation and/orconcealment) of the oil is not established and is not described.

The method of seizure (physical removal from possession) and/orconversion (i.e. segregation and/or concealment) of 350 mln. t of fluidindicated in the bill of indictment is knowingly deprived of meaningfulcontent. But this is not even important, in connection with the absenceof a description of the actual fact of the seizure and/or conversion.

With respect to the charge of laundering oil and the oil products intoproceeds, and of the proceeds – into expenditures of YUKOS and thelawful dividends of shareholders.

I do not admit myself guilty, because the fact of the secret seizure ofoil from the possession of the owner is not established and is notdescribed. Furthermore, I consider that my professional experience doesnot allow assuming the presence in me of intent to conceal the sourceof origin of YUKOS oil, which is directly indicated both in«Transneft»’s routing telegrams and in customs declarations, as well asthe source of origin of the proceeds of the oil company, reflected inthe publicly accessible and disseminated consolidated balance-sheet, -«proceeds from the realisation of oil and oil products».

M.B. Khodorkovsky