Russian prosecutors have brought new criminal charges against jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev. They have been accused of money laundering more than 15 billion euros in illegal oil revenues. Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are already serving eight year prison terms for fraud and tax evasion; if found guilty of these further charges their sentences could be extended.
Lawyers for the two said that the new charges were announced to them by prosecutors in the Siberian city of Chita, where they are being held.
The founder of the oil giant YUKOS, Khodorkovsky was convicted in 2004 following what critics said was his politically motivated arrest for funding opposition parties.
YUKOS, once Russia’s biggest and most profitable oil company, was driven into bankruptcy by massive tax claims and then taken over by state linked firms.
Khodorkovsky’s lawyers said the latest charges are an attempt to keep him in prison until after next year’s Russian presidential elections.