MOSCOW, December 9 (RIA Novosti) – Russian law enforcement officials are considering bringing new charges against jailed former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and other figures over alleged money laundering, Vedomosti daily reported on Monday.
Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Zvyagintsev told Russian media last week that “several cases against former Yukos CEO Khodorkovsky and other people are being probed,” fuelling speculation that the jailed tycoon might face his third trial soon, the newspaper said in the report published Monday.
Khodorkovsky, 50, is due for release next year after spending almost 11 years in jail since his arrest in 2003 and two convictions on fraud, tax evasion and oil embezzlement.
The jailed tycoon has maintained his innocence, claiming that all the cases against him and his business partners were Kremlin retribution for his political and business ambitions. The government has maintained the matter was purely criminal.
According to the newspaper, the new inquiry deals with an episode related to the main case launched back in 2003, regarding alleged laundering of $10 billion outside Russia.
Khodorkovsky might be accused of sponsoring experts and scholars to promote “liberalization of the criminal law in 2008-2011” with money he had obtained by selling the oil embezzled from Yukos subsidiaries, according to the earlier charges.
The Investigative Committee declined to comment on the issue, while Khodorkovsky’s defense lawyers said that they have no official confirmation that their client will face new accusations.
The prosecution’s hints on looming charges against Khodorkovsky follow remarks by Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the Kremlin's human rights council, who said that the forthcoming mass amnesty set to mark the 20th anniversary of the Constitution could apply to Khodorkovsky.