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Court orders release of more Yukos assets

Khodorkovsky is due to stand trial on Wednesday Keystone Archive

The Federal Court has ordered the Swiss authorities to free a further $1.7 billion (SFr2.14 billion) of assets frozen as part of a probe into the Russian oil company, Yukos.

This content was published on June 15, 2004 - 13:07

Switzerland's highest court has now ordered the release of the bulk of the $5 billion in Yukos-related funds blocked at the request of the Russian authorities.

Last week the court ruled that $1.6 billion should be freed following an appeal by lawyers representing Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the imprisoned former head of the oil giant.

On Tuesday the court announced that it had upheld a further two appeals against the freezing of bank accounts.

According to lawyers representing Menatep Holding, which controls Yukos, the released assets make up the bulk of the $5 billion frozen since March.

The Russian government suspects the money came from deals involving illegal fertiliser, oil and oil products.

The Federal Court's decision comes a day before Khodorkovsky is due to go on trial in Moscow. Both he and an associate, Platon Lebedev, stand accused of fraud and fiscal evasion.

Probe

The Federal Court’s ruling comes three months after Swiss police conducted raids on companies across the country.

Accounts belonging to 20 Russian citizens, including Khodorkovsky, were blocked at the request of the Russian authorities.

A spokeswoman for Russia’s Prosecutor General said in March that the accounts held “personal cash deposits by private individuals somehow or another implicated in the misappropriation of particularly large amounts of state funds”.

Khodorkovsky has been in jail in Russia since last October. His supporters maintain he has done nothing wrong.

Some observers have claimed that the probe that led to his arrest was a Kremlin-directed effort to punish Khodorkovsky – Russia’s richest man – for funding opposition political parties.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The Federal Court has ordered the release of $3.3 billion in assets related to the Yukos affair.
Assets worth $5 billion at the time were frozen by the Swiss authorities in March.
At the centre of the investigation is the former boss of Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

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