Tuesday, February 17, 2004

$15-billion bribe aims to free Russian CEO

$15-billion bribe aims to free Russian CEO

That's a serious amount of money that top shareholders of Yukos have reportedly offerred the Russian government for the release of its top people currently in russian prison on various charges:

Worried about their boss's health and desperate to free him from jail, top shareholders in Russian oil giant Yukos made the Kremlin a $15-billion offer on Monday: Let him go and we will give you the company.

After months of proclaiming Mikhail Khodorkovsky's innocence of the charges against him, and their chief executive officer's willingness to tough it out in prison, several big Yukos shareholders blinked and proposed what may amount to one of the largest bribes ever.

In exchange for the release of Mr. Khodorkovsky and fellow top shareholder Platon Lebedev, who are in jail facing fraud and tax-evasion charges, the Kremlin would receive the 44-per-cent stake in Yukos that is controlled by holding company Group Menatep. The offer's value was estimated Monday at $14.6-billion (U.S.).

I doubt this is something the government will even acknowledge as being oferred, but it is an interesting PR play.


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