The Khodorkovsky-Lebedev trial: 1-O in favor of prosecutors

The total amount of back taxes was in excess of 17 billion rubles

The nine-month trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev is nearing its end as prosecutors insisted on Monday that the defendants had been guilty as charged. The defense will take the floor shortly.

Both Mr.Khodorkovsky and Mr. Lebedev, his business partner, are accused of committing crimes stipulated in 7 clauses of the Russian Penal Code including large-scale fraud, misappropriation, causing damage through fraudulent practices, corporate tax evasion, malicious failure to obey a court ruling, and repeated forgery of documents.

The defendants were brought to the courtroom some thirty minutes before a Monday hearing began.  The majority of reporters in attendance were foreign, a small number of Russian reporters were also present.

Prosecutor Dmitry Shokhin handed down a indictment by reading through the long list of charges facing Mr. Khodorkovsky and Mr. Lebedev. His statement practically did not differ from the statements he made at the beginning of the trial. “The analysis of evidence pertinent to the case enables us to make an unequivocal and categorical conclusion that the defendants' guilt has been proven despite the fact that they deny the charges,” said Mr. Shokhin.

The prosecutor claimed that Mr. Khodorkovsky had been the head of a group of persons involved in embezzlement relating to the acquisition of Apatit, a fertilizer company, in the early 1990s. The prosecution also claimed that Mr. Khodorkovsky had been behind the sale of apatite concentrate at reduced price to his affiliates. Then the affiliates allegedly sold the products at market price, a difference was pocketed by the defendants and other persons who colluded with them. 

As regards tax evasion charges, Mr. Shokhin claimed that a group of persons headed by Mr. Khodorkovsky had been responsible for implementing a tax evasion scheme in four companies controlled by Mr. Khodorkovsky in the period 1999 to 2000. The total amount of back taxes was in excess of 17 billion rubles.

Prosecutor Shokhin also started reading the indictment against Andrei Krainov, former director general of Volna, a Menatep-controlled company which held Apatite's shares in its books. However, the prosecutor had to cut short the reading after the court was adjourned till the following day. Mr. Khodorkovsky's lawyer Genrikh Padva told reporters on Monday that prosecutors would be most likely to complete their job within the next couple of days. “The court will be adjourned for some time, and then the defense will take the floor,” said Mr. Padva.

Victor Tsuker

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Author`s name Olga Savka