Founder, Menatep Group
Bank Menatep, Trust Investment Bank and Menatep International
Financial Alliance; investment firms Global Asset Management,
the Blackstone Group, the Carlyle Group and AIG Capital
Partners: information technology company Sibintek; telecom
operators MKS, Macomnet, Metrocom, Rascom and Magistral
Telecom; and, through his Open Russia Foundation, several
Russian news publications
Khodorkovsky cultivated relationships with government
officials through his bank, Menatep, which served the
accounts of many state enterprises and regional governments.
Three years before his acquisition of oil company Yukos,
Khodorkovsky was appointed to the Ministry of Fuel and
Energy. In 1996, he was among the Big Seven, Russia's
most influential bankers who backed the reelection of
President Boris Yeltsin. Khodorkovsky's longtime partner,
Leonid Nevzlin, is a senator in the Federation Council
(the upper chamber of the Russian parliament; seats in
the Federation Council are appointed). Despite an informal
pact Russian oligarchs made with Putin in 2000 that they
would stay out of politics, Khodorkovsky has become increasingly
involved in the Kremlin's affairs. He has financed two
liberal opposition parties, Yabloko and the Union of Right
Forces, upsetting Putin's dominance in the Russian parliament.
In April 2003, Khodorkovsky announced his intention to
merge Yukos with competitor Sibneft to create the fourth-largest
oil company in the world. Although antimonopoly officials
have approved the merger, with the ongoing investigations
into Khodorkovsy's activities, it may be delayed.
Khodorkovsky lives with his wife and four children in
Moscow. He frequently travels to the United States. He
reportedly dined with Condoleezza Rice last year and recently
was a guest at Herb Allen's Idaho ranch, along with Bill
Gates, Warren Buffett and other luminaries, for an annual
telecommunications executives meeting.
After a series of dubious business practices, Khodorkovsy
has struggled with a poor public image. In 1998, his bank
Menatep collapsed, yet Khodorkovsky managed to protect
himself, despite damage to his depositors and creditors.
(The bank also defaulted on a $236 million loan from Western
banks.) In 1999, he moved the location of a Yukos shareholders
meeting 160 miles from Moscow without advance notice to
minority stockholders, keeping them from voting against
the sale of Yukos's assets to an offshore company. That
same year, he prepared a large issue of new shares that
diluted the stake of American investor Kenneth Dart, who
claimed Khodorkovsky defrauded him of millions of dollars.
Recently, however, Khodorkovsky hired a Washington, D.C.,
public relations firm, and he is presenting himself as
a crusader for stockholder and investor rights. Khodorkovsky
donated $1 million of Yukos profits to the U.S. Library
of Congress, and he set up the Open Russian Foundation,
with Henry Kissinger as a member of its board of trustees,
to donate to museums, hospitals and universities. In 2001
and 2002, Khodorkovsky's net worth increased fourfold.