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Russia’s bankrupt oil giant Yukos overpays tax bill – newspaper

Russian oil company Yukos, declared bankrupt in a $30 billion tax claim, has overpaid its tax bill by more than 90 billion rubles ($3.8 billion), the Vedomosti business daily reported on Friday.

Yukos, once Russia’s largest independent oil producer, collapsed after tax evasion allegations were leveled at the company in 2004 which led to the oil giant being broken up and sold off to meet creditor claims. “The court set its ruling concerning the amount of tax fines: tax officers can only double the fines if a taxpayer recommits a crime after being found liable for a similar offense,” the newspaper said.

Claims for back tax of 180.5 billion rubles ($7.6 billion at current exchange rates) for the period 2001-2003 were doubled on the grounds that this was a repeat offense. However, during the periods between the checks the company was not charged with a repeat offense, which means that doubling the tax fines was unjustified, lawyers told the newspaper. Yukos was declared bankrupt August 1, 2006 after three years of litigation with tax authorities over arrears and formally ceased to exist in November 2007.

The company paid more than 710 billion rubles (about $28.4 billion) to its creditors from proceeds from auctions, and defaulted on claims worth 76 billion rubles (about $3 billion). Experts added, however, that the money cannot be returned, as the company was formally liquidated, and the bankruptcy procedure has been completed.

The Yukos affair has seen former chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky jailed in the Siberian city of Chita, where the former oil tycoon is serving his eight-year sentence on fraud and tax evasion charges. The liquidation of Yukos is widely seen as part of the Kremlin’s drive to regain control over the country’s oil and gas sector. Most of the company’s main assets fell into the hands of Rosneft, making the state-run company Russia’s largest oil producer. (rian.ru)