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Court to review legitimacy of verdict for former Yukos official

October 27, 2011, 16:59 UTC+3

The trial was held in absentia as Antonio Valdes-Garcia lives in Spain

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MOSCOW, October 27 (Itar-Tass) — The Moscow City Court on November 2 will review the legitimacy of the verdict for Antonio Valdes-Garcia of Spain, former head of the Fargoil company, a subsidiary of YUKOS. He was sentenced to eight years in prison for stealing 13 billion dollars and laundering another 8.5 billion from the sale of petroleum products produced by YUKOS' daughter companies.

"The appeal against the verdict by the Basmanny court for Valdes-Garcia will be considered at 10:00, Moscow time, on November 2," a Moscow City Court official said.

The trial was held in absentia as Antonio Valdes-Garcia lives in Spain. The Spanish authorities refused to extradite him to Russia.

According to the court, Valdes-Garcia's guilt was fully proved by evidence and witnesses' testimonies.

The criminal group was created for the purpose of theft by "an identified person now wanted by police". For several years Valdes-Garcia, as a member of an organized criminal group, which also included Vladimir Malakhovsky and Vladimir Pereverzin, both convicted, stole oil from YUKOS-controlled companies, including Tomskneft-VNK and Samaraneftegaz, by buying crude oil at substantially understated prices and selling it abroad at a price 3-5 times higher, according to the verdict.

Valdes-Garcia pleaded partially guilty and confirmed during the preliminary investigation that he had been head of some of the YUKOS-controlled companies and "signed some documents without understanding their meaning".

He reiterated his testimony at the trial saying his right to defense had been violated and complained about pressure from the investigators. However the court found no proof of his words and declared them ungrounded and far-fetched.

Valdes-Garcia's lawyers said the verdict was unfounded and would be appealed.

Earlier, the prosecutor had demanded 13 years of prison for him.

The criminal case against Valdes-Garcia, Pereverzin and Malakhovsky was examined by the Basmanny Court in 2007 when they were charged with stealing 13 billion U.S. dollars, of which 8.5 billion U.S. dollars had been legalized.

At the end of the trial, Valdes-Garcia succeeded in escaping from Russia, while the other two persons were sentenced to 11 and 12 years in a maximum-security correctional facility respectively. The Valdes-Garcia case was then singled out to be examined separately.

Former YUKOS CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and his business partner, MENATEP director Platon Lebedev testified in court in favor of Valdes-Garcia.

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