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Prosecutors Say Khodorkovsky, Partner Stole $32 Billion In Oil

Khodorkovsky at a court hearing in 2005 (ITAR-TASS) February 9, 2007 -- Russian prosecutors say jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his former business associate, Platon Lebedev, organized the theft of oil worth $32 billion.

The accusation came as prosecutors revealed for the first time details of the new charges of embezzlement and money laundering they filed against both men this week.

MORE: Coverage in Russian from RFE/RL's Russian Service.

A statement on the prosecutor-general's website said that the oil acquired illegally between 1998-2003 was then sold through firms registered in Russia and abroad. As a result, the statement said a total of $24.5 billion was allegedly laundered.

Khodorkovsky, the founder of the now bankrupt Yukos oil company, and Lebedev, the head of Yukos' financial arm, are already serving eight-year prison sentences for fraud and tax evasion.

Critics said the trial against Khodorkovsky was Kremlin-inspired punishment for his challenges to President Vladimir Putin.

(ITAR-TASS, Interfax, AP)

Democracy In Russia

Democracy In Russia

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