Moscow court resumes hearings on Khodorkovsky case

Moscow's Meshchansky court will continue looking into the evidence against Mikhail Khodorkovsky, ex-chief of the YUKOS oil major, furnished by the prosecution.

On Friday, the court denied to close the criminal case against Khodorkovksy, Platon Lebedev, and Andrei Krainov who are accused of misappropriating Apatit shares. A petition filed by the YUKOS chiefs' defence lawyers for closing the criminal case on the misappropriation of 20% of Apatit shares under the limitations statute was found premature. "The court has not studied all the evidence on the matter provided by the prosecution," said judge Irina Kolesnikova.

The court supported prosecutor Dmitry Shokhin who had requested to turn down the petition as the court could not assess the evidence provided by the prosecution at this stage in full.

Investigators revealed that Platon Lebedev, who was President of Bank Menatep and a member of the Board of Directors of the Menatep financial group and the Russian-Swiss Trust and Trade joint venture, joined an organised group of people in Moscow in 1994, which was created and led by Khodorkovsky, who was chairman of the said three companies' boards of directors. The group was created for the misappropriation of Russian enterprises' shares during the privatisation campaign. Lebedev co-led the criminal group along with Khodorkovsky.

As Bank Menatep President, Lebedev provided bank guarantees to bogus companies that fraudulently acquired shares and issued financial liabilities that were executed as sales/purchase contracts.

Investigators found out that the group also comprised employees of Bank Menatep and other companies under the bank's, Lebedev's and Khodorkovsky's control. Chernyshova, head of Bank Menatep's privatisation department, and Krainov, a Menatep group employee, are also mentioned in the case file.

Krainov opened bogus companies and was the general director of the bogus Volna company on behalf of which Apatit shares were fraudulently acquired.

Chernyshova signed the contract for the purchase/sale of the Apatit shares on Volna's behalf, according to the conviction paper.

"Khodorkovsky and Lebedev arranged for the misappropriation of 20% of Apatit shares worth over $283 million in the summer of 1994," according to the case file. They thereby inflicted damage of over $1 billion on the Russian economy, according to investigators.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team