Lawyers for Mikhail Khodorkovsky called theft and money-laundering charges brought against the imprisoned former chief executive officer of OAO Yukos Oil Co. “laughable” and groundless.
“Bureaucrats with security backgrounds have spent several years, huge amounts of state money and a large measure of the reputation of our legal system to fabricate clearly laughable charges” against Khodorkovsky and his former business partner Platon Lebedev, the defense team said today on its Web site.
Deputy Prosecutor General Viktor Grin yesterday confirmed the investigators’ conclusion that Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are guilty of charges that include embezzling oil worth more than 892.4 billion rubles ($24.9 billion) from Yukos production units and laundering a part of the profits, 487.4 billion rubles and $7.5 billion. Prosecutors also allege that Khodorkovsky and Lebedev conspired in 1998 with other Yukos shareholders to embezzle and launder shares worth 3.6 billion rubles in companies associated with Vostochnaya Oil Co., in which Yukos held a controlling stake.
The next step, Khodorkovsky’s lawyers say, is for the case to go to trial.
“By law the trial should be held in Moscow,” Yuri Schmidt said by telephone. The trial should begin in “a matter of weeks,” the defense team said in an e-mailed statement. ‘
“There can be no fair ‘new’ trial since the court will accept as valid thefindings and conclusions of the faulty judicial and investigator processesthat brought us here,” lawyer Robert Amsterdam said in the statement. “Any’new’ trial ought to be condemned from the start as inherently defected bythe undeniable violations on record to date.”
The new case hasn’t yet been sent to court for “technical reasons,” theInterfax news service reported, citing Marina Gridneva, a spokeswoman forthe Prosecutor General’s Office.An official at the prosecutor’s office declined to comment when contacted byBloomberg News.
Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, with an estimated net worth of $15billion according to Forbes magazine, is currently serving an eight yearprison sentence for fraud and tax evasion near the Chinese border in theChita region.
Photo: A Russian political activist holds a picture of jailed ex-Yukos headMikhail Khodorkovsky at a rally in Moscow on October 30, 2008. Dozensgathered to mark Victims of Political Repression Day. The holiday wasoriginally created in the 1990’s to mark the victims of Stalin-erarepressions, but has been used by activists to call for the release ofthose who they consider contemporary political prisoners. The signreads: “Freedom”. (AFP/Getty Images)