Accessibility links

Breaking News

Jailed Russian Official: Yukos Auction Was Staged

Two Russian antiriot policemen pass by the Yukos oil giant's logo during an auction for the sale of the company's key assets at Yukos's Moscow headquarters.
TULA, Russia -- A former member of the ruling United Russia party says Russian authorities orchestrated the fraudulent sale in 2004 of a stake in the oil giant Yukos, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Maksim Dudarev is a former aide to United Russia Chairman Boris Gryzlov and an ex-official at Rosgosimushchestvo, the state property agency.

He was found guilty of fraud in 2009 and given a seven-year prison term that he is serving in a labor camp in Tula Oblast.

Dudarev, 30, says the case against him is politically motivated and that he was jailed for trying to publicize the "activities in Tula Oblast of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), which was illegally confiscating properties from a local company."

In December 2004, Dudarev took part in an auction at which Yukos sold its 76 percent stake in its daughter company Yuganskneftegaz, its main extractor of oil and gas.

Those shares were purchased by an unknown company named Baikalfinansgrup that had been officially registered only two weeks earlier.

Baikalfinansgrup was bought by Russian state oil company Rosneft soon afterward.

Former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his close associate Platon Lebedev were convicted and sentenced for tax evasion in 2005 and, in December 2010, Moscow's Khamovnichesky court found them guilty of stealing oil and laundering the proceeds. They are due to remain in jail until 2016.

Dudarev told RFE/RL on October 11 that his application for early release will be considered by the parole commission on October 20.

He said he is familiar with the Russian authorities' scenario for auctions and tenders, explaining that the winner is usually known from the outset and all auction participants know when and how much to bid.

Dudarev declined to give any details regarding the auction of the Yukos stake other than to say it was organized by Igor Sechin, the current deputy prime minister.

Dudarev said the objective -- to transfer ownership of the Yukos stake to Baikalfinansgrup -- was known from the start.

"They herded all the auction participants together like cattle; it was clear from the beginning who was going to win," he said.

Dudarev also admitted that he fears for his life. He said he is the only participant in the 2004 auction in jail and his main objective is to be released without implicating anyone who could then also be imprisoned.

Dudarev added that he will be able to divulge more details about the auction only after he leaves prison.

Read more in Russian here