Yukos chief’s defence team gains access to vital documents

Yukos’s former chief executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky has won the right in the US to obtain documents related to the Russian oil giant from oil business Chevron.

The US magistrate judge of the Northern District of California signed an order granting third-party discovery for Khodorkovsky’s defence team to obtain due diligence documents.

Khodorkovsky’s team, led by Robert Amsterdam, the founding partner of Amsterdam & Peroff, argued that Chevron’s due diligence will provide valuable evidence that will refute allegations that Khodorkovsky is guilty of embezzlement and money laundering.

“Were there any truth to the accusation, Chevron would have undoubtedly detected the widespread criminal misconduct alleged and would not have continued to pursue the acquisition,” the defence claimed.

Amsterdam added: “This is just the beginning of a global evidence-gathering process that is necessary because the procuracy of the Russian Federation is not a fact-gatherer, but rather an enforcement arm of a Kremlin bent on consolidating the state theft of Yukos.”

Just days ago the Swiss High Court denied a request by the Russian Federation to access key bank documents. (www.thelawyer.com, 24 August).

Amsterdam said: “After the landmark Swiss court ruling, it’s patently clear that the ongoing prosecution of Khodorkovsky represents a continuing abuse of process under Russian and international law that requires that all actions against Mr Khodorkovsky be stayed.”

Khodorkovsky is currently imprisoned in Siberia on charges of the embezzlement of $33bn (£16.6bn).