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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 April 2007, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
PwC denies risk to Russian unit
Policemen walking past the Yukos headquarters in Moscow
Yukos was declared bankrupt last year
The Russian branch of global accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has denied that its licence to operate in the country is at risk.

Its comments follow newspaper reports in Russia that PwC's licence could be revoked after it lost a legal case involving bankrupt oil firm Yukos.

A Russian court ruled last month that PwC had knowingly helped Yukos evade taxes, fining it $480,000 (242,000).

Western analysts say the Kremlin has pursued a vendetta against Yukos.

They add that PwC's Russian operation has now been caught up in this campaign by Moscow.

'No impact expected'

PwC's Russian licence is due to be renewed in May.

"We maintain our position that PwC's audits were consistent with the applicable professional standards and the applicable law," said PwC Russia in a statement.

"We have no reason to believe that the application for our licence prolongation will be impacted based on the resolution of the court.

"We fully expect it to be renewed in accordance with existing procedure and legislation."

Growing state control

Yukos, once Russia's largest oil company, was declared bankrupt in August last year after a three-year battle against tax avoidance charges.

It eventually collapsed after it could not pay back taxes totalling $27bn.

Most commentators claim the action against Yukos was politically motivated and punishment by the Kremlin for the political aspirations of Yukos' former boss, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Mr Khodorkovsky, once the richest man in Russia, had started to fund political parties opposed to President Vladimir Putin.

The businessman now remains in prison after being jailed in 2005 on tax avoidance charges.

Since then, most of Yukos' operations have fallen back into the hands of state-controlled Russian companies, most notably Rosneft, following compulsory auctions.


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