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Archive for Thursday, July 8, 2004

Briefly

July 8, 2004

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Moscow

Oil tycoon offers stocks to pay taxes

Jailed billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky told the Yukos board it should use his shares to settle a back taxes claim that threatens to bankrupt the giant oil company he once headed, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Attorney Anton Drel's announcement of the offer came hours after bailiffs moved to enforce payment, saying the deadline had passed, and it was unclear if the proposal came too late to keep the state from seizing company assets. Yukos produces about a fifth of Russia's oil.

Khodorkovsky's proposal to the Yukos board to use his stock and that of other core shareholders to settle the $3.4 billion bill was intended to "prevent the company's bankruptcy and to prevent damage to the interests of all the workers and shareholders of the company," Drel said.

Khodorkovsky and key associates hold about 44 percent of the company's stock. Under a court order, Yukos is prevented from selling assets to raise money to pay the bill.

Poland

Child psychologist admits abusing children

A prominent Polish child psychologist, widely known for his writings on child rearing, has confessed he sexually abused minors, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Andrzej Samson, who built a reputation offering advice in books, newspapers and magazines, and has served as a court expert in pedophilia cases, was detained June 28 after police grew suspicious that he was linked to pornographic photographs discovered in a garbage dump near his Warsaw home.

A prosecutor, Alina Janczarska, told Poland's PAP news agency that Samson had confessed to charges of repeated sexual acts with a child under 15, possessing materials depicting children in sexual acts and making pornographic materials available to children.

Vatican City

Budget in the red for third straight year

The Vatican reported a deficit for the third consecutive year Wednesday -- about $11.8 million -- but said it reduced the shortfall by nearly 30 percent from 2002 despite the costs for the Holy See's expanding diplomatic missions.

At the same time, it reported an increase in contributions to the pope, known as Peter's Pence, which it said were used for various relief efforts around the world and for the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.

The increase came despite sex abuse scandals in the United States and other countries. Payouts related to the scandals have battered church finances in Boston; Santa Fe, N.M; and Portland, Ore., where the archdiocese has filed for bankrupty.

The Vatican listed 2003 revenues of about 203.6 million euros and expenditures of 213.2 million euros for a deficit of 9.6 million euros, or $11.8 million. Last year, the Vatican reported a 2002 deficit of 13.5 million euros, almost 30 percent higher than this year's figure.

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