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    KHODORKOVSKY SUSPECTED OF PRIVATISATION SWINDLE

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    MOSCOW, April 1st, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - Former CEO of the Yukos oil company Mikhail Khodorkovsky is suspected of having formed a criminal group that was involved in privatisation swindle of Russian companies. This is how the accusations against Platon Lebedev has been formulated. The charges can be found at the official site of the Russian Prosecutor General's Office on Thursday.

    The investigation has established that when working as the Menatep president and a member of the board of the closed joint-stock company, Menatep International Financial Association, and the joint Russian-Swedish company, Russian Trust and Trade, he became a member of an organised criminal group in Moscow in 1994. This group was formed and led by Chairman of the Board of these financial and industrial groups for the purpose of acquiring shares in Russian enterprises during the privatisation. Together with Khodorkovsky, he led this group through the crimes, runs the accusation.

    According to investigators, the group included Menatep bank and other legal entities controlled by the bank, Lebedev and Khodorkovsky. The charges also feature head of the Menatep privatisation department N. Chernyshov and A. Krainov who worked in the closed type company, Menatep International Financial Association.

    Lebedev and Khodorkovsky are facing seven charges pursuant to the Russian Criminal Code, including swindle and fraud.

    Lebedev's case was handed over to the Meshchansky Court on March 26. The investigation into Khodorkovsky's case is continuing, and the term of his custody has been extended till May 25, 2004.

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