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MOSCOW, November 10 (Itar-Tass) — Moscow's Zamoskvoretsky court on Thursday began the substantive hearing in absentia of the criminal case against former Yukos co-owner Vladimir Dubov, accused of a theft of 76 billion non-denominated roubles from the budget.
The hearing is held in absentia as the defendant had been living in Israel since 2003, when former YUKOS CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested.
In the beginning of the Thursday hearing, the prosecutor read an indictment. According to the document, to mastermind a theft in 1997, Dubov exploited the difficult economic situation in the country, i.e. its large budget deficit, when President Boris Yeltsin allowed companies and organizations, as well as Russian regions with mutual debts and liabilities to the federal budget, to offset them in special mutual settlement procedure.
The investigators believe that Dubov, together with his accomplices, artificially created a situation with mutual non-payments, by taking advantage of the fact that the Volgograd region was underfunded from the federal budget by 76 billions of non-denominated roubles in 1997. The money was needed for building housing for retired servicemen, a bridge across the Volga and a water supply pipe in Mikhailovka. At that time, Yuganskneftegaz, a Yukos subsidiary, had a large tax debt to the federal budget.
Together with his accomplices, Dubov misled the administration of the Volgograd region, by offering a clever plan to obtain money for the implementation of the federal program. The plan envisioned faking the regions' liability to Yukos for the supply of petroleum products worth 76 billion roubles. The Finance Ministry paid the debt within the framework of mutual settlements and transferred the money to Yuganskneftegaz's account through the Volgograd region administration.
For its part, the Volgograd region received a promissory note worth 53.2 billion roubles from Samaraneftegaz and another promissory note worth 22.8 billion roubles from Aval Ltd. The first promissory implied temporary possession of budget funds with redemption date not earlier than August 2000, while the second was "non-liquid" and could not fall due.
Dubov and his group therefore fraudulently came in possession of 76 billion of non-denominated roubles. Of those 53.2 billion roubles were borrowed temporarily, and the remaining 22.8 billion roubles were misappropriated.
Dubov was charged with fraud in absentia and causing damage to property without hallmarks of theft (Articles 159 and 165 of Russia's Criminal Code).
After the prosecutor finished reading the indictment, the defense took the floor. Dubov's lawyer Leonid Saikin called the charges against his client "far-fetched."
"Such speculations do not give opportunity to the defendant to defend himself, while the court is unable to understand the meaning of the accusations," the lawyer said.
In his opinion, the investigators have failed to specify Dubov's criminal actions. He also believes that Dubov's criminal prosecution is politically motivated.
Saikin thinks that reviewing the case in absentia is illegitimate and objects to the Volgograd region's being an injured party in the case, because the region in question did not incur damage during the events described.