Author`s name Pravda.Ru

Arbitration and Meshchansky courts of Moscow to consider Yukos case

Moscow's Court of Arbitration intends to consider Yukos's claim to invalidate the April 14 decision of the tax ministry that Yukos should pay additional 99.375 billion rubles (over $3.4 billion) in taxes, RIA Novosti sources in court say.

On May 26, Moscow's Court of Arbitration ruled that Yukos should pay 99.375 billion rubles to the budget.

Moscow's Meshchansky Court will probably decide to unite the cases of former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Menatep Head Platon Lebedev on Friday.

Today the Meshchansky Court will begin preliminary hearings of the Khodorkovsky case, the court sources told RIA Novosti. On this day, the same court will resume hearings of the Lebedev case.

Earlier, the Meshchansky Court broke for a recession in the hearings of the Lebedev case after his defense solicited for uniting the two cases.

"If Khodorkovsky's defense solicits for uniting these cases too, the court is highly likely to approve it," Yelena Liptser, Lebedev's lawyer, said earlier.

She recalled that Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were facing the same charges.

Both of them are indicted on seven articles of the Russian Criminal Court, including fraud and tax evasion.

According to the Prosecutor General's Office, Khodorkovsky, then Menatep CEO, President of this bank Platon Lebedev and other people organized an illegal seizure of 20% of shares in the Apatit open joint stock company, to the sum of over $283 million in summer 1994.

Moreover, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are accused of tax evasion and illegal seizure of budget means, as major Yukos shareholders and de facto owners of this company in 1999-2000.

According to the investigation, the damage of their actions exceeds $1 billion.

Khodorkovsky is also accused of income tax evasion as a natural person in 1998-1999 and failure to pay insurance premiums to the Pension Fund to the sum of 53 million rubles ($1.7 million).

Khodorkovsky was detained on October 25, 2003 at Tolmachevo airport of Novosibirsk and brought to Moscow on the same day. In Moscow, Basmanny Court authorized his arrest. Khodorkovsky has pleaded not guilty. On November 3, he resigned from the post of the Yukos CEO.

Another news about Yukos came today in the Vedomosti newspaper. Yukos CEO Semyon Kukes might resign before the end of June, the newspaper reports citing a source close to the company's leadership.

Yukos managers have so far declined to comment on this possibility. A spokesman for the company told RIA Novosti that he had no information on the matter yet.

At the same time, a source among Yukos shareholders has made it clear that there was such a possibility.

"In all probability, Mr. Kukes's post can be taken over by Mr. Gerashchenko," he said.

The candidacy of former Central Bank President Viktor Gerashchenko was earlier forwarded in the Yukos Board. This decision has already been confirmed by the Board, and now Yukos shareholders will have to make their choice.

The annual session of the Yukos shareholders is due in June.