Former Yukos chief found guilty

A Russian court has found the head of the former oil giant Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and one of his business partners, guilty on several charges of tax evasion, fraud and embezzlement, but has withheld a formal verdict and sentencing.

‘The guilt of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev has been confirmed in case materials and witness testimonies,’ judge Irina Kolesnikova, told the court in Moscow before adjourning for the day.

Final verdicts on the seven charges are expected to be announced this week. If convicted, Khodorkovsky, one of Russia’s richest men, could receive a jail sentence of up to 10 years, with prosecutors poised to bring more charges against him later.

Khodorkovsky’s defence lawyer, Yury Shmidt, said: ‘There has been no sentence, but we regard this as illegal. The court has completely taken the side of the prosecution.’

Yukos is fighting for its survival after it was hit with demands for £15bn in back taxes and fines.

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