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Yukos debt virtually repaid

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Bankrupt Russian oil company Yukos has virtually repaid its debts to creditors, including the federal tax authorities, Russia's chief bailiff said Thursday. Khodorkovsky remanded in custody over new probe until Oct. 2 -1. 

“Yukos's debt has been practically paid off after the sale of its assets,” Nikolai Vinnichenko told a news conference. Once the largest oil producer in Russia, the Yukos empire collapsed under the pressure of claims by tax authorities and was auctioned off, with the bulk of its assets bought up by government-controlled oil company Rosneft. Eduard Rebgun, the Yukos bankruptcy administrator, said on Wednesday that the company had started repaying its principal debt worth $400 billion rubles ($15.5 billion) to third-tier creditors, including payments to the federal budget. The Yukos register of creditors' claims includes 137 claims from 63 creditors totaling 709.512 billion rubles ($27 billion).

Yukos's founder, Mikhail Khodokovsky, who is serving an eight-year term for fraud and tax evasion, was sent from a prison in the Chita Region to the Chita detention center in late 2006 as part of a new investigation into additional money laundering charges. A court in the East Siberian city of Chita remanded ex-Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky in custody Thursday in a local detention center until October 2. “The term of the preliminary investigation has been extended due to the complexity of the case, and the term of detention must also be prolonged for three months so that the defendant can study the materials of the case, which comprise 127 volumes,” a prosecutor said. Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev are facing charges with laundering 450 billion rubles ($17 billion) and $7.5 billion in 1998-2004 after the theft of government securities and oil.

Khodorkovsky, who acquired oil assets through controversial privatization deals in the early 1990s, has insisted that his prosecution was orchestrated by the authorities to silence his criticism of President Vladimir Putin, and as part of a campaign to bring oil and gas assets under the Kremlin's control. (rian.ru)

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