Former Soviet citizen Yelena Collong-Popova is ready to cooperate with Russian law-enforcement agencies in the YUKOS case; nonetheless, she doesn't want to go to Russia because she fears her former corporate partners.
This was disclosed November 14 by Madame Collong-Popova, who now lives in Paris, and who has made a number of sensational statements exposing her previous cooperation with high-placed YUKOS-group managers, over the last few days.
I'm not afraid of the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office; still I fear pressure on the part of YUKOS people and their style of work, Collong-Popova told RIA Novosti.
I became acquainted with the then YUKOS financial director Alexei Golubovich and his wife Olga in the mid-1990s, Collong-Popova said. Golubovich suggested that they cooperate soon afterward; and, so, Collong-Popova worked together with his wife until 2001. Meanwhile her cooperation with Golubovich lasted over the 1996-2000 period.
Such cooperation implied that I had to deal with quite a few offshore companies (about 30, or, maybe, even more), which were registered in my name inside the so-called "tax heavens" all over the world, Collong-Popova claims.
Those companies owned YUKOS, Rosprom and MENATEP-Group shares, she claims. All these companies were used to perform various financial transactions, including the sale and purchase of the most liquid shares and even entire enterprises, she added. (Former YUKOS chief executive officer Mikhail Khodorkovsky, now being accused of financial frauds by the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office, also chaired the board of the Rosprom company, which was established by MENATEP - Ed.) According to Collong-Popova, she had warned Golubovich that one could not work in such a manner because she had to pay taxes, just like any French citizen must. In the long run, officials from France's financial investigations department showed up to check her performance.
She tried to explain during the investigation that offshore companies being managed by her handled the monies of various companies and enterprises, which were linked with YUKOS and Rosprom, rather than her own money. But her arguments failed to convince French justice; consequently, a Paris court gave her a 12-month suspended sentence for tax evasion in May 2003, also fining the lady 15 million euros.
Madame Collong-Popova believes that her facts and documents can be used by Russian law-enforcement agencies within the framework of the current YUKOS investigation.