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Russian court seizes $16 million from disgraced oligarchs

The funds belonged to former Yukos executives Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev

Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court has ordered the seizure of 1.4 billion rubles ($16 million) from exiled former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his one-time business partner Platon Lebedev, Russian media reported on Monday.

The suit against Khodorkovsky, Lebedev, and the defunct Siberian Leasing Company was initiated last month by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office. The defendants were accused of failing to pay back restitution to the government for the embezzlement of funds tied to former oil giant Yukos, which they owned.

The court ordered the funds that remain deposited in Trust Bank accounts to be transferred to the Russian authorities, TASS reported.

Representatives of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev reportedly did not appear before the court. Trust Bank and the Federal Bailiff Service raised no objections to the prosecution’s demands.

Khodorkovsky founded the now-defunct Yukos oil company as a result of a controversial auction of state assets following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. It rapidly became one of Russia’s most valuable companies.

READ MORE: Dutch court denies Russia’s appeal of $50bn Yukos award

In 2003, Khodorkovsky, once the country’s richest man, was arrested and charged with tax evasion and fraud. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison but was released after ten years and ten months, when President Vladimir Putin pardoned him on humanitarian grounds. The former tycoon left Russia shortly after he was freed.

Lebedev, who was named as a co-defendant in the Yukos case, was found guilty of embezzlement, tax evasion, and money laundering. He served nine years in prison and was released in early 2014.

June 24, 2024 at 08:44PM

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