The Yukos Money Laundering Case: A Never-Ending Story

The Yukos case has unveiled the possible dangers of money laundering legislation in the hands of governments with transitional economies and weak democratic traditions. Even if the anti-money laundering laws of the country comply with international pronouncements to the letter, there are still a number of ways the laws could be used for the sole purpose of persecuting political opponents. In the Yukos case, the money laundering charges were interrelated with the charges of corporate tax evasion, which, taken separately, in Russia, represent a rather weak tool for suppressing the political opponents, but taken together they are perfect for the confiscation of assets. This allowed the investigators to represent the activities of the giant corporate group as a process of committing organized criminal offense that continued for more than seven years.