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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Khodorkovsky: Menatep Has $4.5Bln in Cash, None Frozen

Mikhail Khodorkovsky denied Friday that Swiss prosecutors had frozen bank accounts belonging to him and other Group Menatep shareholders.

Prosecutors on Thursday said Swiss authorities froze $4.9 billion in Swiss bank accounts belonging to Khodorkovsky and other owners of Menatep, parent company of oil giant Yukos.

"[This is] absolutely false," Khodorkovsky said in a statement sent by Open Russia, a charity he founded and funds.

Khodorkovsky said Menatep has $4.5 billion in cash and cash equivalents, most of which is invested in Russian assets or controlled by charities, but that none of that money had been frozen. "Menatep doesn't have any other large amounts of cash," he added.

Menatep said the $4.5 billion belonged to a trust fund for 40,000 Yukos workers who have been with the company more than 10 years, Interfax reported. However, prosecutors told Interfax the accounts frozen were personally held and didn't belong to Menatep or the workers trust.

Khodorkovsky and his partner Platon Lebedev are in a jail awaiting trial on charges of fraud and tax evasion. Three other shareholders, Leonid Nevzlin, Vladimir Dubov and Mikhail Brudno, are wanted on similar charges and living in Israel. All five deny the charges.

On Friday, prosecutors announced that another Yukos official, senior vice president Alexander Temerko, had not appeared for questioning and that his whereabouts were unknown.

Prime-Tass quoted unidentified law enforcement officials as saying that he had fled the country. Yukos declined to comment.

(AP, Bloomberg, MT)