The Office of the Prosecutor General launched a criminal case No 18/41-03 over fraud, embezzlement and tax evasion on an especially large scale. The website Prigovor.ru reminds its readers of what happened on June 20, 2003.
On this day 20 years ago, on June 20, 2003, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Russia launched a criminal case No 18/41-03 over fraud, embezzlement and tax evasion on an especially large scale, committed by an organized group of persons consisting of members of the leadership of the oil company Yukos and their henchmen. At that moment, it was assumed that this case was connected only with the illegal privatizing of the ore mining and processing enterprise “Apatit” and the embezzlement of 20% stock of shares of this company. A rather superficial understanding of the kind was initially based on the fact that, on June 6, 2003, a deputy of the State Duma Vladimir Yudin had directed a request to the Office of the Prosecutor General of Russia, in which he had placed in doubt the legality of the privatization of the company “Apatit” in 1994. As soon as materials of numerous earlier investigations became a criminal case, “non-indifferent public” and a donee of gifts from Mikhail Khodorkovsky*, accused the parliamentarian of launching a criminal case against “the most transparent” oil company. By the way, he had every right to do so.
Although Platon Lebedev, head of the International Financial Association MFO “Menatep”, was the first to be arrested due to “economic’ reasons, in this case were also mentioned taxes, fraud, apatite concentrate, as well as non-execution of the court’s ruling that had come into effect.
“DECISION IS TAKEN ON FILING A CRIMINAL CASE…”
“In the mentioned request, the main subject was the privatizing of the OJSC “Apatit”, as well as the actions of this enterprise as a monopolist in its branch. Mentioned also was also the lack of influence of the government on this branch, in general, and on this company, in particular. There was no mention at all of Platon Lebedev. I don’t know what the Prosecutor’s office has dug out there”, said a bit later the deputy Yudin.
Natalya Vishnyakova, an official spokesperson of the Office of the Prosecutor General of Russia, in her turn, explained that the deputy, in fact, had reported in his letter about fraud with the help of which the embezzlement had been carried out of the shares of the company “Apatit” belonging to the state, and had called it “economic terrorism”. The Prosecutor’s Office took into consideration these data.
And then, based on the results of an additional inspection, a decision was taken about filing a criminal case “in order to solve the question of actual responsibility of those guilty of the embezzlement of the shares of “Apatit”.
During the search of persons guilty of “the apatite affair”, the criminal case No 18/41-03 was becoming overgrown with more and more new episodes, and the investigation was becoming bigger and bigger. In October 2003, after the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a rather informative document was presented to the public under the general title “Background information on the criminal case No 18/41-03”. The material had been prepared by the Office of the Prosecutor General of Russia for the press in order to help journalists to better understand the nuances of the indictment filed against Platon Lebedev and Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The criminal activity of the robber-barons presented in this chronical impressed by its scale.
MAIN CASE OF YUKOS
In the end, a dozen of episodes presented to the swindlers from Yukos and ”Menatep” were qualified by the investigation under seven Articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The materials of the consolidated criminal case against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, presented to the Meschansky District Court of Moscow, took up 400 volumes. All these machinations - from the embezzlement of the shares of “Apatit” to the banal tax evasion of the billionaires as physical persons found their confirmation in court. For that Khodorkovsky and Lebedev received their first prison terms – nine years of imprisonment each. (Later, through the procedure of appeal, the terms were reduced to eight years in a standard regime penal colony).
Yet, the investigation of the criminal case No 18/41-03 continued, and the volume of the materials on the con artists from Yukos only ramped up. As the result, the case No 18/41-03 became the “main”, or, as the business press put it, “the parent case”. From it were extracted various other cases against henchmen and the “major” shareholders of Yukos, or, perhaps, they were united in one.
(See also the article “They carried out criminal activity in the oil sector of the country”)
From out of the case No18/41-03 the second Yukos case was separated – No 18/432766-07. In this new case Khodorkovsky M.B. and Lebedev P.L. were charged of committing embezzlement by way of illegal acquisition on an especially large scale under Article 160, paragraph 4 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, as well as of legalizing (laundering) of monetary means acquired as the result of the crime committed by them on an especially large scale (Article 174.1, paragraph 4 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). The case was considered by the Khamovnichesty District Court of Moscow in 2010. The court adjudged guilty Khodorkovsky and Lebedev of oil embezzlement and legalizing of the property acquired by illegal means. Both defendants were sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment in a standard regime penal colony for stealing of oil and money laundering.
It’s like this that the criminal case No 18/41-03 which was started in 2003 on the fact of the dubious privatization of the OJSC “Apatit” (it is not yet closed) has transformed into a saga about the adventures of the robber-barons from “the most transparent” oil company Yukos.
(See the previous article “On this day, investigators came for Alexey Pichugin”. Bloody side of Yukos. Alexey Pichugin, an employee of Yukos security service, was apprehended within the framework of the criminal case No 18/325507-04 on suspicion of organizing a double murder. The website Prigovor.ru reminds its readers of what happened on June 19, 2003).
*On May 20, 2022, the Russian Ministry of Justice included M.B. Khodorkovsky in the list of physical persons executing functions of a foreign agent.