MOSCOW, August 17 - RAPSI. Former Eastern Oil Company (VNK) CEO Vitaly Khatkov has testified as a witness in a closed trial against former YUKOS shareholder Leonid Nevzlin, the defendant's attorney Dmitry Kharitonov told the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI/ on Friday.

Three civil lawsuits have been initiated under the criminal case. One lawsuit amounting to 3.6 billion rubles ($113.05 million) was filed by the Federal Agency for State Property Management. The other lawsuits were submitted by two VNK shareholders, who demand that VNK pay them dividends worth 20,000 ($628) and 40,000 rubles ($1,256), respectively.

Nevzlin is believed to have misappropriated 38 percent of the shares in Tomskneft, the Achinsky Refinery and other companies as a member of an organized crime group in 1998.

The shares were transferred to VNK's charter capital and valued at over 3 billion rubles ($94.21 million).

Major YUKOS shareholders and executives Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Platon Lebedev and YUKOS EP Executive Manager Ramil Burganov were earlier convicted in the case.

However, Kharitonov told RAPSI that the information is untrue. He added that the Moscow Khamovnichesky District Court examined the VNK episode as part of the second YUKOS case and passed a separate ruling jointly with Khodorkovsky and Lebedev's sentence.

The case against them was closed as the 10-year statute of limitations had expired.

Nevzlin was earlier sentenced to life imprisonment for masterminding the murder or attempted murder of East Petroleum Handelsgas Gmbh Executive Manager Yevgeny Rybin, Moscow PR Department head Olga Kostina and Rosprom Business Manager Viktor Kolesov.

Additionally, the Prosecutor's General Office issued in absentia in 2004 charges on economic and tax grounds in 1999-2000. Specifically, Nevzlin was accused of tax evasion and misappropriating assets.

Investigators claimed that the damages from tax evasion exceeded 26 million rubles ($816,530) and the damages from misappropriation exceeded 30 million rubles ($942,150).

Nevzlin served as the chancellor of the Russian State Humanitarian University in 2003.

The same year, he emigrated to Israel and received citizenship when the YUKOS case opened.