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Russia has sent Britain a request for the extradition of Mikhail
Russia has sent Britain a request for the extradition of Mikhail Gutseriyev, the former head of the oil company RussNeft, wanted in Russia on charges of tax evasion, investigators said Monday.

"He is in England, and a request for his extradition has been forwarded," Igor Tsokolov, department head at the Russian Interior Ministry Investigation Committee, said.

The U.K. Home Office has not commented, saying it never comments on extradition requests.

If tried and convicted, Gutseriyev faces up to six years in prison. He has dismissed the charges as "nonsense".

In July 2007, Gutseriyev resigned as Russneft president and withdrew from all his business projects, citing pressure from the Russian government. He was put on a police wanted list after he failed to appear for questioning on the charges.

In October 2007, some Russian media carried reports that Gutseriyev had asked for political asylum in Britain. The reports were later denied by the then British ambassador to Russia, Tony Brenton.

In April 2008, Russian investigators completed their probe into Gutseriyev's activities, and announced that they would push for the businessman's extradition from the U.K.

The British Home Office did not comment.

In April the Sunday Times included him in its list of the U.K.'s richest residents.

The case is likely to draw comparisons with the trial and imprisonment of Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Khodorkovsky, the founder of what was once the country's largest oil company, was arrested in October 2003 and convicted in May 2005 on fraud and tax evasion charges. Earlier this year, new charges were filed against him, accusing him of laundering $28.3 billion and stealing huge volumes of oil between 1998 and 2004.

The Yukos oil company formally ceased to exist in November 2007, after its assets were sold off through a series of liquidation auctions to meet vast creditor claims. State oil company Rosneft bought up the lion's share of the production assets, becoming Russia's largest oil producer.

Khodorkovsky, an outspoken critic of former Russian president Vladimir Putin, has consistently denied all charges against him, saying he was punished for supporting the opposition, and that the liquidation of Yukos was engineered by corrupt government officials aiming to seize lucrative oil assets.

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