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    PwC to appeal court decision voiding Yukos audit contract

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    MOSCOW, March 20 (RIA Novosti) - PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a U.K.-based former auditor of Russia's bankrupt oil company Yukos, said it would appeal against a court ruling invalidating the audit contract.

    The Moscow Arbitration Court Tuesday annulled a contract between Yukos and PwC, its auditor in 2002-2004, which has been accused of covering up the company's tax shelter schemes and drawing up two different audit reports in over three years. The court also ordered PwC to pay the state $480,000.

    PWC said in a statement the court ruling was unsubstantiated and based on a fundamentally different understanding of an auditor's role and functions.

    Investigators from the Russian Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor General's Office last week raided PwC's Moscow office and seized documents. They suspect PwC of evading 243 million rubles ($9.3 million) in taxes in 2002.

    The company protested the seizure, saying the documents had nothing to do with 2002 tax claims, and that it had already paid all tax arrears. Russian law enforcement pressed the 2002 profit tax claim against PwC a year ago.

    The company has lost three appeals in arbitration courts since then, and said it was considering an appeal to the Supreme Arbitration Court.

    Russian tax authorities are accusing PwC's Moscow branch of under-reporting profit tax on sums it allegedly paid to offshore PricewaterhouseCoopers Resources B.V., which was supposed to provide financial consultations to clients in Russia. Tax officials said the consultation services were provided by the company's Moscow branch instead.

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