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Settlement unlikely in Yukos case

Moscow, Nov. 26 (Reuters): Russian prosecutors said today they saw no chance of an out-of-court settlement in the case of the Yukos oil firm’s key shareholder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, charged with fraud and tax evasion.

Khodorkovsky was arrested at gunpoint in October, three months after prosecutors detained his close ally and another big Yukos shareholder Platon Lebedev. Both are now in jail pending trial on similar charges.

“There is no question of an out-of-court settlement,” Natalya Vishnyakova, spokeswoman for the prosecutor-general said.

“First of all because neither Lebedev, nor Khodorkovsky, have pleaded guilty.”

Prosecutors said yesterday they had finished their investigation into Khodorkovsky and were about to send the case to court.

Vishnyakova said prosecutors would not press for a closed- door trial, but stressed it was up to the court to decide.

Arrests among core Yukos shareholders, coupled with an array of probes into the biggest Russian oil company, have sent shockwaves through the Russian business community and unnerved foreign investors.

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