Fifteen experts are suspects in new Yukos case

posted 16 Dec 2013, 07:36 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 16 Dec 2013, 07:37 ]
12 December 2013

Source: (info)
Approximately 15 experts - lawyers, attorneys and economists - are under investigation in the new Yukos case, Sources familiar with the investigation revealed this information to Interfax on 11 December, reports.

The suspects had taken part in an independent evaluation of the second criminal case against former head of Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. According to the sources, materials have been found during searches in connection with the new Yukos case which confirm that the experts received money, stolen from the company by its former leaders.

The investigation does not exclude the possibility that the resources of Yukos which were stolen and subsequently laundered abroad were intended to be used to change Russian legislation to the benefit of Khodorkovsky. According to the sources of the Interfax news agency, this is the version that is now being developed.

In his turn, the former rector of the New School of Economics, Sergei Guriev, who took part in the independent evaluation of the trial of Khodorkovsky and who moved abroad after he was summoned fore questioning by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, has already told the agency that he received no money for his work. Mikhail Subbotin, who worked on a project to liberalize the criminal legislation, called the suspicions of bias absurd, since the initiative to soften the punishment for economic crimes came from the government itself.

The investigation into the latest Yukos case became public knowledge late last week. According to unofficial information, it concerns the laundering of $10bn and suspects in the case include the former financial director of Yukos Bruce Mizamor and the former company president Steven Theede. Khodorkovsky himself does not yet figure in the investigation, but the prosecution says that this is just a matter of time.

Besides this, journalists have found that the main focus of the investigators is the suspected payment by former top managers of Yukos to experts who worked on the liberalisation of the criminal law. The investigators think it possible attempts were made to secure the early release of Khodorkovsky and his partner Platon Lebedev by means amendments to a number of articles of the criminal code.

The liberalisation of Russian criminal law, conducted during the presidency of Dmitry Medvedev on his own initiative, took place in several stages. The suspicions of the investigators appear to relate to the stage that concerned reductions in sentences for economic crimes. On the basis of the changes in this legislation Khodorkovsky appealed against his sentence. The same reform later was the reason for the reduction of his term from 13 to 11 years.

The independent review of the second Khodorkovsky prosecution, as a result of which he received 13 years in a penal colony, took place in 2011 with the support of Dmitry Medvedev, who then held the post of president of Russia. Those taking part in the review included prominent economists and legal experts from Russia and abroad. The experts concluded that serious violations had been allowed in the course of the prosecution and trial, and that the judgment in the Khodorkovsky case should as a result be reconsidered.

Translated by Eva Cukier