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Last Updated: Monday, 14 July, 2003, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
Russian tycoon 'names successor'
Yukos headquarters
Yukos is braced for more raids
Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has named Jacob Rothschild as a possible successor to take over his Yukos oil company if he goes to prison on fraud charges, according to reports.

The Rothschilds have financed oil exploration in Russia since the Tsarist period, while Lord Rothschild has close connections with Yukos.

Police raided Yukos offices in Moscow on Friday, spending nearly 17 hours searching through computer archives, the Russian financial daily Kommersant quoted a top Yukos official as saying.

In this situation, we cannot rule out new searches, including at head office. Nothing can stop these people
Dmitry Gololobov, Yukos

Mr Khodorkovsky, who has been in the United States at a conference attended by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, is reported to be preparing for the worst ahead of his return, scheduled for Tuesday.

First in line to replace him is the group's chief financier, Platon Lebedev, who is already in jail after he was arrested at the beginning of the month and charged with defrauding a state company.

Next in line would be Yury Golubev, who is standing in for Mr Lebedev as head of the Menatep group, which owns 61% of Yukos.

If all the top Yukos managers were unable to carry out the role, Lord Rothschild would take over, the company official told Kommersant on condition of anonymity.

Financing politics

Dmitry Gololobov, deputy head of the Yukos' legal department has told journalists he could not "rule out new searches, including at head office," adding that "nothing can stop these people".

The authorities are investigating tax evasion at Yukos and rival firm Sibneft, which are due to merge to create the world's fourth-ranked producer.

Mr Khodorkovsky, who has a personal fortune estimated at $8bn has been targeted by prosecutors in what is seen as a politically-driven campaign by Kremlin figures.

The tycoon has been financing opposition parties ahead of December parliamentary elections, in a move analysts say breaks a 2000 agreement between President Vladimir Putin and the nation's billionaire magnates for them to keep out of politics.

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