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    GENERAL PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE: KHODORKOVSKY, LEBEDEV INFLICT DAMAGE WORTH OVER $1 BILLION

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    MOSCOW, April 1,2004. (RIA Novosti). Former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky is suspected of organizing a criminal group involved in fraudulent schemes to privatize Russian enterprises, says the document formulating a charge brought against Platon Lebedev and published on Thursday on the official web site of the Russian General Prosecutor's Office.

    Investigators have found that Lebedev who worked as Menatep bank president and sat on the board of some other structures joined in 1994 an organized group of persons established and run by chairman of the Menatep board of directors and other financial and economic undertakings Khodorkovsky, the document says.

    There was a clear-cut distribution of roles in the organized group, the formulated charge says. "Khodorkovsky organized and governed all activities of its members aimed at the fraudulent purchase of the shares of enterprises scheduled for privatization. As the president of Menatep bank, Lebedev issued bank guarantees to fake commercial organizations for the purpose of acquiring deceitfully on their behalf the shares evidencing the discharge of financial obligations assumed under purchase/sale transactions," the document further says.

    The group also involved other Menatep bank officers and legal entities controlled by the bank, Lebedev and Khodorkovsky.

    According to the charge formulated in the document, "in the summer of 1994 Khodorkovsky and Lebedev fraudulently acquired 20% of the shares of the Apatit joint stock company worth over $283 million." As the investigation has found, the damage inflicted by Khodorkovsky and Lebedev exceeds $1 billion.

    Lebedev and Khodorkovsky are accused under seven articles of the Criminal Code of Russia, including fraud and gross embezzlement.

    The Lebedev case was transferred to the Meschansky court on March 26. The investigation of the Khodorkovsky case still goes on: the term of his arrest has been extended until May 25, 2004.

    On March 12 the Basmanny court authorized to freeze the Swiss accounts of twenty persons involved in the Yukos case. According to data of the General Prosecutor's Office, Khodorkovsky, Lebedev, former rector of the Russian State Humanitarian University Leonid Nevzlin and other persons involved in the Yukos case have over 6.2 billion Swiss franks (about $5 billion) on accounts with five Swiss banks.

    Khodorkovsky denies his guilt. On November 3, 2003 he resigned from the post of the Yukos board chairman.

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