Khodorkovsky partner given early release

Former Menatep chief Platon Lebedev.(RIA Novosti / Andrey Stenin)
Jailed businessman Platon Lebedev is said to be paroled next year, as the prosecution agreed to reduce his sentence by three years. Lebedev was sentenced to 13 years behind bars for oil theft and money laundering.

Velsk court in the Arkhangelsk Region, northern Russia, where Lebedev is currently serving his term, decided to cut the businessman’s punishment to 11 years and three months. Thus, the preliminary date of his release is July 2013, if no appeal is filed.

“We are not going to appeal,” Lebedev’s defense told Interfax news agency. At the same time prosecutors said they cannot say yet if they will appeal the decision.

Judge Nikolay Raspopov agreed to revise a number of articles in which Lebedev was involved, including the first case, but reduced the term only for some of the crimes.

The decision comes after the previous decision to reduce the term from 13 to nine years eight months was overturned. Earlier in August, the court granted Lebedev earlier release in March 2013, but the prosecution appealed that decision.

Former business partners Platon Lebedev, ex-head of privately owned bank Menatep, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, ex -CEO of Yukos oil Company, were each sentenced to 13 years in prison for money laundering and embezzlement in December 2010.

In the second case against them, they were found guilty of organizing a criminal group in the oil business, embezzling 218 million tonnes of oil from Yukos’ oil extraction subsidiary companies, Uganskneftegaz, Tomskneft and Samaraneftegaz.

The court established that Khodorkovsky and Lebedev made fake purchase and sales deals through front companies and only returned part of the profits to subsidiary companies. 

They were also found guilty of registering offshore companies “to facilitate criminal business activities” and money laundering.

Platon Lebedev was found guilty of organizing financial transactions in the affair.

Both men were said to have a thought-out plan for all these crimes and act in accordance with it.

Despite the fact that Khodorkovsky and Lebedev pleaded not guilty, the court found their evidence contradictory. 

In 2005 they were sentenced to eight years behind bars for fraud and tax evasion, the first criminal case filed against them.

The sentences were to be served concurrently. They were first detained in 2003 and, counting time already served, were initially expected to remain in jail until 2016.