"IT IS NOT GOOD" TO SELL YUGANSKNEFTEGAZ, SAYS RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL AIDE

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MOSCOW, October 28 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian President's aide Igor Shuvalov believes that to sell the Yuganskneftegaz "is not good."

"Our position with regard to the sale of Yuganskneftegaz is negative. If Yukos is not able to pay taxes, then the sale will be necessary," he told reporters in Moscow.

According to the Federal Tax Service, Yukos has to pay 7.4 billion dollars to cover its tax payments for 2000-2001. The court recognized only the unpaid taxes for 2000, that is, 3.4 billion dollars. The Tax Service started to write off the unpaid taxes for 2001, having proved only the sum of the fines in the court - 1.3 billion dollars.

All accounts and assets of Yukos and of its subsidiaries were arrested, and in order to cover Yukos' tax debt, the Ministry of Justice decided to sell Yuganskneftegaz.

The Ministry of Justice announced its decision to sell the Yukos' largest subsidiary to cover the oil company's tax debt in late July.

In mid-October the Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein bank, which appraised the cost of the enterprise on order of the Ministry of Justice, evaluated Yuganskneftegaz at $14.7-17.3 billion, taking into consideration the tax claims.

At the present time, the document on selling the Yuganskneftegaz shares is in the Russian Fund of Federal Property.

Both Russian and foreign companies should take part in the auction for the sale of Yuganskneftegaz, Russian Deputy Minister of Industry and Energy Ivan Matyorov believes.

"This auction must be as much as possible open so that Russian and foreign companies could take part in it," the Deputy Minister told reporters on Thursday.

He did not exclude the possibility that Gazprom will buy Yuganskneftegaz.

"The purchaser may be both a big Russian company and a world-known foreign company. Gazprom has enough money to make this purchase," Ivan Matyorov said.

The sale of Yukos' main production unit, Yuganskneftegaz, if such a decision is taken, must be transparent, the Russian President's aide Igor Shuvalov believes.

"Our duty is to make the sale of the assets transparent. If the sale does take place, we shall watch it," Igor Shuvalov said at the conference on the problems of investments in Moscow.

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