The illusion of transparency. According to the tax agency, the company Yukos and controllable by it entities underpaid the budget 150 billion rubles. The website Prigovor.ru reminds its readers of what happened on December 2, 2003.
On this day 18 years ago, on December 2, 2003, the wider public looked behind the scenes of "the transparent corporate accounting” of Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s oil empire - Yukos and the entities under its control underpaid the budget 150 billion ruble in form of taxes (at that moment about $5 billion).
Corresponding information was presented by the management of the Ministry of Taxes and Levies to the Office of the Prosecutor General of Russia in a special letter that turned up at the disposal of information agencies. The question was about "materials relating to paying taxes in 1998-1999 through problem banks of the JSC the Oil Company Yukos, JSC “Tomskteft-VNK”, JSC “Angarsk Oil-Chemical Company” to the amount about 2 billion rubles of each tax-payer.
Apart from that, the agencies reported, materials had been submitted on the use by these companies of schemes to receive tax privileges on “investment agreements” with the state organs of Mordovia.
“The mentioned charges are connected with the realization of oil by other affiliated companies of the JSC “the Oil Company Yukos” at prices by more than 20% below the market price, that allows the Tax agencies, in accordance with Article 40 of the Tax Code of Russia, to imply the real price of oil”, was pointed out in the letter.
“On the assumption of the sum of the unpaid taxes through the problem banks, using transfer prices when realizing oil, and taking into consideration the circumstance that as the result of the use of these schemes of receiving privileges on “investment agreements” with the state organs of the Republic of Mordovia, the oil-traders of the JSK “the Oil Company Yukos” underpaid taxes to the tune exceeding 65 billion rubles, and the whole sum of unpaid taxes including fines and penalties, according to our preliminary estimates, amounts to about 150 billion rubles”, was pointed out in that document.
(See also the article “On this day, Nevzlin purchased for himself a chair in the Federation Council. Beneficial locus from Yukos. Six shell firms under the supervision of Dubov and “bloody senator” Nevzlin).
“A FAULTY” PARTNER
Naturally, the authors in business publications immediately built the information of the Tax service into the context of negotiations on the merger of Yukos and “Sibneft”. An intrigue. The negotiations continue – the sides bargain, each has its own conditions, and so on and so forth. However, corporative issues are corporative issues. Without controversies, bargains, and intrigues deals happened only in fairy tales. But if we simplify the situation and render it to a natural water level, then we can hardly find somebody interested in buying a product with hidden flaws, which, despite all the efforts of the seller, have been disclosed, though in the final stage. To put it simpler – Yukos has turned out to be a "faulty" partner – on the surface, if to look at the pestilent advertising folder, not so bad, but at first inspections – a quiet tax nightmare.
APPRAISAL OF THE TAX “ECONOMY”
Some business publications together with experts had started to speculate about what it had been. Eventually, they concurred in the opinion that the originated in the Ministry of Taxes and Levies claims was a signal to Yukos. However, it was read differently. Some decided that Yukos had to immediately accept all conditions of “Sibneft” and merge in one holding with it. Others, on the contrary, thought that the tax arrears to the tune of $5 billion were an effort to ruin the oil deal of the century. Although both variants didn’t bore well – the fact of tax evasion, in any case, was present whether there was the deal of the century, or there was not. “The estimates made by taxmen, coincide with the calculations of “Brunswick UBS”, pointed out the newspaper.
“We have compared data about factual taxes paid by Yukos taken from its financial reporting according to the standards of US GAAP with the profit tax rate effective at that time”, Andrey Machanskis, an analyst of the investment company. “It has turned out that, taking into account penalties and fines, this sum may amount to $3.523 billion”, said the newspaper, stressing that the analyst refused to talk about legality (or illegality) of such tax “economy”.
EVERYTHING TURNED OUT TO BE WORSE
It’s obvious that such calculations were based on preliminary data, which were known at that moment. After corrections, everything turned out to be worse. By the middle of November 2004, the whole sum of the tax claims presented to the company for 2000-2002 (including enforcement fees and tax claims to affiliate companies) amounted to 18.4 billion U.S. dollars. Moreover, all the claims were confirmed by the courts. As to efforts of Yukos lawyers to challenge in court, at least, some sums, so even if they had been successful, they would not have changed the picture all the same", notes the website Prigovor.ru.
(See the previous article “On this day crashed the “charity” laundry of Yukos”. Acquisition and laundering. Yukos money was transferred to accounts of shell civic organizations and then cashed out. The website Prigovor.ru reminds its readers of what happened on December 1, 2005.