Khodorkovsky blasts Putin as Yukos defaults

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The credit rating of the Russian oil group Yukos was cut to default by Standard & Poor's yesterday, after it missed an interest payment on a $1bn (£520m) loan.

The credit rating of the Russian oil group Yukos was cut to default by Standard & Poor's yesterday, after it missed an interest payment on a $1bn (£520m) loan.

The downgrading came as Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head of Yukos who is in prison facing fraud and embezzlement charges, denounced the Kremlin, accusing it of "the most senseless and destructive event for the economy in all of President Vladimir Putin's time in power".

S&P said that Yukos had kept up loan payments until Monday this week - despite the fact it had seemed that the company faced ruin. The missed payment followed the Kremlin's seizure and sale of Yukos' main production unit, Yuganskneftegaz, on 19 December.

The credit rating cut, to the lowest possible level, sent Yukos shares tumbling 25 per cent to 20 roubles. The company is now worth less than $2bn - compared with more than $40bn last year. Yukos still owes about $1.5bn under two loans arranged by Citibank and Société Générale.

The Russian authorities have claimed a crippling $27.5bn in back taxes from Yukos. The sale of Yuganskneftegaz to the state oil group Rosneft raised $9.4bn and Yukos has made tax payments of $4.5bn, but analysts believe other Yukos assets will be forcibly sold off.

In a letter published in a Russian newspaper, Mr Khodorkovsky wrote: "The Yukos case isn't a conflict between business and state, but a politically and commercially motivated attack launched by one business, represented by officials, against another."

Comments