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PwC withdraws Yukos audits for 1995-2004

MOSCOW, June 25 (RIA Novosti) - PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the former auditor of the bankrupt Russian oil company Yukos, has withdrawn its 1995-2004 audits for the company, citing a need to abide by auditing rules, a company official said Monday.

"PwC decided to withdraw its audit opinions for Yukos when it became aware of new information which had it been known at the time may have affected Yukos's audit reports," the audit company said in a press release Sunday. "PwC now believes information and representations which was provided to PwC by Yukos's former management may not have been accurate."

The source at PwC said auditing standards required an auditor to conduct a repeat survey or withdraw audits if new information becomes available following an audit.

"I don't think anyone is going to believe this is anything other than bowing to pressure from the Kremlin," Tim Osborne, managing director of Yukos's main shareholder, GML, told Britain's Financial Times business daily Monday.

The newspaper said PwC was withdrawing all of its audit reports for Yukos because Russian prosecutors had uncovered new information. The audit company refused to comment on exactly what information from Russian prosecutors had prompted the withdrawal.

In March 2007, a Moscow court of arbitration upheld the Federal Tax Service's suit to declare the audits invalid and compelled PwC to pay $480,000 to the Russian government.

Earlier reports said the court would reconsider the legitimacy of PwC's financial audits of Yukos July 17.

PwC has refuted accusations of incompetence, saying Yukos's responsibility could not be shifted onto auditors.

Yukos was declared bankrupt August 1, 2006 after three years of litigation with tax authorities over arrears.

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