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Swiss partially unblock Yukos funds

Former Yukos boss Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been behind bars since October Keystone Archive

Switzerland’s Federal Court has ordered officials to unblock $1.6 billion (SFr2 billion) in funds frozen as part of a probe into the Russian oil company, Yukos.

This content was published on June 11, 2004 - 13:35

The move comes after the court accepted an appeal brought by lawyers representing the jailed former boss of Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

On Friday the Federal Court disclosed that it had upheld one of a series of appeals against the freezing of bank accounts blocked at the request of the Russian authorities, but gave no further details.

Five other appeals connected to the case have been rejected, while four more are still pending.

A spokesman for Philippe Neyroud, a Geneva-based lawyer representing Khodorkovsky, said the successful appeal freed the assets of a subsidiary of Menatep Holding, which controls Yukos.

Khodorkovsky is due to appear before a court in Moscow on June 16. Both he and an associate, Platon Lebedev, stand accused of fraud and fiscal evasion.

Probe

The Federal Court’s ruling comes three months after Switzerland froze some SFr6.2 billion as part of an investigation into the embattled oil giant.

Swiss police conducted raids on companies across the country, and 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

Key facts

The Swiss have partially unfrozen $1.6 billion in funds related to the Yukos affair.
SFr6.2 billion were frozen in connection with a probe into the Yukos oil company in March.
At the centre of the investigation is the former boss of Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
He will stand trial in Russia on June 16.
The Federal Court is Switzerland's highest court.

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