CORRUPTION OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS
Bank Menatep paid 4 government-appointed directors of Yukos, who were managing the business before, during and after the privatisation, $600m between 1998-2003 to facilitate the oligarchs taking control of Yukos. These directors were public servants. The payments were made via offshore shell companies, despite all parties being based in Russia.
DESTRUCTION OF EVIDENCE
One week after the oligarchs’ bank, Bank Menatep, had its banking license revoked, the bank’s records (607 boxes) were loaded onto a truck to be taken to the State Depository of the Novgorod region. Instead of going direct up the M10 motorway, the driver took a diversion to Dubna, an hour away, where the truck crashed into the river and all the documents were lost. The driver was unharmed.
In 2005, former Yukos security chief Alexei Pichugin was convicted of organizing the double murder in November 2002 of Olga and Sergei Gorin. Mr. Pichugin was found to be acting on the orders of Leonid Nevzlin. In August 2008, Nevzlin, who fled to Israel in 2003, was found guilty in absentia of several counts of conspiracy to murder individuals who had stood in Yukos’ way.
ASSASSINATING A MAYOR
Pichugin and Nevzlin have also been found guilty of organizing the murder of Vladimir Petukhov, Mayor of Nefteyugansk (Siberia), where Yukos subsidiary YNG was headquartered. Petukhov was a vocal critic of Yukos, protesting against Yukos’ failure to pay its taxes and decreasing its workers’ wages. He encouraged YNG’s employees to protest against their treatment. He was shot dead on June 26, 1998.
SECRET TAX SCHEME
In 2002, Yukos’ owners and managers explored the feasibility of listing Yukos shares on the New York Stock Exchange. The project was abandoned as a result of the disclosures required by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, because the secrecy of Yukos’ “tax optimization” scheme, which Yukos had always strived to protect, would be jeopardized.
On September 25, 2003, while Yukos was under investigation for tax evasion, a decision to convene an extraordinary general meeting of Yukos shareholders was taken. At the meeting the company’s majority shareholders—i.e., the shell companies owned by the oligarchs – approved the payment of an interim dividend for 2003 of US$ 2 billion. This was by far the largest dividend ever paid by Yukos in its corporate history.