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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rebgun Says Yukos Debts Could Grow

Yukos' debts could grow by up to $17.4 billion, killing off shareholders' hopes of recovering their money, company receiver Eduard Rebgun said in an interview published in Vedomosti on Monday.

But Rebgun backtracked on the figure Monday, saying it was purely "hypothetical" and could be either smaller or larger after courts handed out rulings on debt claims.

"There are ongoing disputes about taxes and with debtors and creditors," he said by telephone. "That figure shouldn't be taken as any indication."

He also issued a statement saying he would not provide any estimates of how Yukos debts might increase before the company paid its debts included on the court-approved list.

In the Vedomosti interview, Rebgun said the current debt of 709.5 billion rubles ($27.5 billion) could grow to 1.16 trillion rubles ($44.9 billion).

Proceeds from Yukos auctions could reach 824 billion rubles when the receiver sells all off the company's assets. The auctions have raised 810 billion rubles so far. Shareholders had at one point hoped to get some of the excess intake of $4.4 billion, but the emergence of new debts would dash these.

Yukos owes up to $8.36 billion more in taxes, Vedomsti cited Rebgun as saying. A spokesperson for the Federal Tax Service could not be reached for comment Monday.

In addition, courts are now considering debt claims worth another $8.2 billion, Rebgun said. The biggest claim -- of some $5 billion -- comes from Yukos Capital S.a.r.l., a Luxembourg-registered company, he said.

"Ideally, I should take that into account," Rebgun said Monday.

Some analysts have speculated that Yukos S.a.r.l. is linked to GML.

Yukos Capital S.a.r.l. lost two court cases trying to get its claim recognized and is asking for a reversal of judgment in a hearing scheduled in Moscow for this coming Thursday, Vedomosti reported.

Yukos will also have to use the proceeds from the auctions to cover its current operational expenses of some $850 million, Rebgun told Vedomosti.

The prospect of a heavier debt burden on Yukos was expected, said Tim Osborne, the director of GML, formerly Group Menatep, Yukos' largest shareholder.

"What a surprise!" he said sarcastically by telephone from London. "I was always of the view that the Russian Federation would make sure that Yukos didn't have any surplus from these auctions. Presumably, this is it."

Companies affiliated with Yukos shareholders will never be allowed to win courts in Moscow, or collect the debt if they do win, Osborne said.

n The Prosecutor General's Office has appealed a court ruling that former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev be brought to face new fraud and embezzlement charges in Moscow, Interfax reported.

The court last month upheld a lower court's ruling that Khodorkovsky's and Lebedev's rights were violated when the latest investigation was conducted in the Chita region, where they are being held. The two are currently serving eight-year sentences on tax and fraud charges.