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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 April 2006, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
Yukos lawyer convicted of fraud
Security guard outside Yukos headquarters
Yukos is fighting to stave off bankruptcy
A Russian court has sentenced a lawyer for embattled oil firm Yukos to seven years in prison for embezzlement.

Svetlana Bakhmina was arrested in 2004 and accused of asset-stripping at the firm's Tomskneft subsidiary.

Prosecutors have controversially sought a nine-year jail sentence for Mrs Bakhmina, who has two small children.

Yukos has been gradually dismantled amid a concerted state campaign against alleged corruption and tax evasion.

Ongoing battle

Former chief executive Mikhail Khordokovsky is serving an eight-year jail sentence in Siberia after being convicted of fraud and tax evasion. A district court has recently ruled that his continued solitary confinement was illegal.

Yukos' most senior Russian executive, Vasili Aleksanyan, was recently arrested and accused of money laundering.

The sentence was pronounced against Mrs Bakhmina by district court Judge Tatyana Korneyeva after reading out the lengthy verdict in court.

The Yukos employee was accused of stealing property worth $300m from Tomskneft, a former upstream unit which oversaw exploration, production and processing of oil.

Tomskneft assets were frozen in late 2004, months after Mr Khordokovsky was arrested.

Mrs Bakhmina, deputy head of the firm's Moscow legal department, has denied all the charges.

Bankruptcy threat

Yukos is currently trying to stave off bankruptcy, after a consortium of foreign banks accused it of defaulting on loan repayments.

Yukos' prinicipal assets have been seized and sold off over the past eighteen months after the authorities accused it of huge tax evasion and sought to recover $32bn.

Once one of Russia's most powerful employers, Yukos is a shadow of its former size, although it still produces 600,000 barrels of oil a day.

Yukos has accused the authorities of mounting an extra-judicial and politically motivated campaign against the firm.

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