Yukos says vital servers not taken in raid

 

Russian oil company Yukos said today police had not after all seized vital equipment that helps keep its vast oilfields running, a small comfort ahead of a week that could see it go bankrupt.

Police searched the firm's Moscow headquarters for eight hours on yesterday. Yukos said then that computer servers had been confiscated which could halt production. But it later said documents, safes and computer discs had been taken, but not the servers.

"There was an attempt to confiscate them (the servers), but at the moment those servers which are linked to oil production are in working order," Yukos spokesman Mr Alexander Shadrin told reporters outside the firm's central Moscow office.

"There was no catastrophe, but it was close." The raid came ahead of a week when Yukos has to settle a $3.4 billion bill for back taxes. It has until Wednesday evening to pay up, but after a court froze its bank accounts last week it cannot even sell off assets to help.

Yukos has warned the payment could bankrupt it. That warning came before the company was hit with an additional back-tax claim for around the same amount for 2001. The firm's shares have lost more than half their value since early April and its top shareholder, Russia's richest man Mr Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is on trial for fraud and tax evasion.

Mr Shadrin said the raid amounted to scare tactics by the authorities. "This is the second year we've been living in this situation, so it's quite difficult to frighten us."