MOSCOW, January 16 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow’s Khamovniki District Court overstated the money laundering claim against former Yukos bosses Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, the Moscow City Court’s presidium ruled on Wednesday.
The court’s presidium said in a statement that the district court wrongfully included 5.5 billion rubles ($185 million) in taxes and duties that were evaded by the two businessmen in the total sum they received from laundering their profits gained from oil embezzlement.
Funds received through tax evasion should not be seen as having been “laundered,” the statement said, adding that financial and other transactions with such assets should not lead to criminal prosecution.
“Lebedev and Khodorkovsky purposefully neglected their constitutional duty to pay taxes by including false information about non-existent tax benefits in their income declarations,” the presidium said.
“As a result their taxes, payable to the federal budget, ended up in their own accounts as impersonal income and were added to the amount that the defendants used for their continued illegal dealings aimed at legitimizing their illegal income. This means that the money obtained through tax evasion has been included in the amount used to prosecute the defendents for money laundering, and this is against the law.”
The court’s decision is based on a law prohibiting prosecution for laundering income received through tax evasion. The defendants should not be considered as having been tried on the same charges following their conviction, the court said.
The Moscow City Court removed the amount at issue from the previous ruling. The current figure only indicates the amount obtained through laundering revenues from oil theft.
The businessmen were convicted by a district court in Moscow in 2010 of stealing 200 million tons of oil and laundering the profits. They appealed the verdict, asking to be cleared of all charges.
Last December the Moscow City Court slashed prison sentences for them. Lebedev is expected to be released on July 2, 2014, and Khodorkovsky – on October 25, 2014.