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Yukos searches

Moscow, Nov. 27 (Reuters): Russian prosecutors said today they carried out new searches and seized papers at Yukos, keeping up relentless pressure on the oil company whose former chief executive is in jail.

A statement from the prosecutor general’s office said the searches were carried out yesterday. The statement came on the eve of a major shareholders’ meeting in which Yukos, which is merging with smaller rival Sibneft , will elect new company officers.

Yukos’ former head Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested last month on charges of tax evasion and fraud, spreading alarm among investors who feared it was the start of a concerted assault by the authorities on big business.

Russian prosecutors said yesterday there was no chance for oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, charged with fraud and tax evasion, to settle his case out of court. Khodorkovsky, a billionaire who is the main shareholder in Yukos, now looks almost certain to stand trial.

The prosecutor general’s office said that during the search, investigators seized documents from the office of Yukos-Moscow, a parent company of Yukos, which is headed by Steven Theede, a US citizen.

“Yukos-Moscow employees, including the company’s head Steven Theede, were not questioned,” the statement said.

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