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Investigation into Yukos executive prolonged until December


MOSCOW, September 7 (RIA Novosti) - The Prosecutor General's Office decided Thursday to prolong until December 2 an investigation into the case of an executive vice-president of the embattled oil company Yukos, a lawyer for the accused said.

Gevorg Dangyan said the Basmanny Court of Moscow also ruled earlier that his defendant, Vasily Aleksanyan, be remanded until December 2. He faces charges of embezzlement and money laundering.

The Prosecutor General's Office accuses Aleksanyan of embezzling $460 million from Yukos production unit Tomskneft and funds from other oil companies, and of laundering another $460.8 million through his personal account in a Swiss bank. If found guilty, Aleksanyan faces 10-15 years in jail.

Prosecutors said earlier they wanted Aleksanyan to be remanded into custody because they feared he could flee the country and that he had attempted to do so already. They also said he could try to intimidate witnesses, destroy documents or hinder the investigation were he to be released.

They said Aleksanyan's associates - Leonid Nevzlin, Yukos core shareholder, currently living in Israel, and Dmitry Gololobov, head of Yukos-Moscow legal department - have fled and were on the international wanted list. Lakhtin said Aleksanyan could coordinate his testimony with Nevzlin and Gololobov, and therefore had to be kept in custody.

Prosecutors also said a floppy disk was found in Gololobov's office that contained instructions on how to behave during an arrest, how to influence witnesses and an investigation, attract the interest of the press and escape punishment.

Aleksanyan has denied any wrongdoing and said he always turned up for questioning in the past two years while head of the Yukos legal department.

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