Yukos Oil Company was a petroleum company in Russia, controlled by billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky and a number of other prominent Russian businessmen. Khodorkovsky, a political opponent of Vladimir Putin, was imprisoned and sent to Siberia after being convicted of fraud by a Russian court in 2005, while others, such as vice-president Alexander Temerko fled Russia. Khodorkovsky was released in 2013.
Yukos' headquarters were located in Moscow.
Yukos was one of the world's largest non-state oil companies, producing 20% of Russian oil—about 2% of world production. Its assets were acquired in controversial circumstances from the Russian Government during the privatization process of the early 1990s. The initial period of "oligarchic privatization" was characterized by bloodshed, and Yukos was certainly no exception. Alexei Pichugin, the former Security Chief of Yukos, has been convicted on multiple counts of murder () and attempted murder, and is now under investigation along with Yukos partner Nevzlin for the shooting death of Vladimir Petukhov, the mayor of the Yugansk oil province and a vehement opponent of Yukos, on Mr. Khodorkovsky's birthday in 1998.
In April 2003, Yukos agreed to a merger with Sibneft, but the merger was soon undone in the aftermath of the arrest of Yukos CEO Khodorkovsky in October 2003.
In July 2004, Yukos was charged with tax evasion, for an amount of over US$7 billion. The Russian government accused the company of misusing tax havens inside Russia in the 1990s so as to reduce its tax burden; havens were set up by most major oil producers in outlying areas of Russia which had been granted special tax status to assist in their economic development; such "onshore-offshore" were used to evade profit taxes, resulting in Yukos having an effective tax rate of 11%, vs a statutory rate of 30% at the time. Yukos claims its actions were legal at the time. Yukos subsidiaries also declared the oil they produced to be "oil-containing liquids"  to avoid paying full taxes. Moreover, only Yukos was charged with such tax evasion.
In a move to prevent bankruptcy, management made a friendly offer to the government to pay 8 billion dollars in a period of three years.
A management presentation from December 2004 shows that the tax claims put the "total tax burden" for 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003 at 67%, 105%, 111%, and 83% of the company's declared revenue during those years (). As a comparison, the annual tax bill of Gazprom is about $4 billion on 2003 revenues of $28.867 billion.
By mid-December 2004, all members of the board of Yukos, and most of the company's senior managers, had left Russia, some of them because of "fear of arrest" after being "summoned for questioning by prosecutors" (). According to a December, 2004, Houston, Texas court filing the CFO resides in Houston. According to a company spokeswoman the CEO resides in London, UK as of December, 2004.
According to the Moscow Times of Friday, February 4, 2005, Issue 3099, Page 5, Mikhail Brudno and Vladimir Dubov fled to Israel in 2003, and were seen on February 2, 2005 in Washington, D.C. at an official function of George W. Bush.  Both men are cited in an international arrest warrant regarding their involvement in the Yukos tax case. Leonid Nevzlin, also in Israel, is sought on several counts of murder and attempted murder.
In a more recent development, on Wednesday 6 April 2006, Mr. Aleksanyan was arrested just six days into his new role for the Company as Executive Vice President. Yukos comments on its web site: "We can only assume that this action against him is a direct result of his accepting a position to work to protect YUKOS Oil Company and its legitimate stakeholders".
Lords on the board
According to the Times:
- Non-executive directors gain access to key Russian businesspeople and annual salaries of up to £200,000, but even well-intentioned non-executive directors may find themselves powerless in the rough and tumble of Russian business.
- Mr Browder says: “If important people ask me if they should accept posts on Russian boards, I always say ‘no’ because most of the time they will have no ability to change what the Russian shareholders will do, but will still take some liability for what happens.”
- One example is Yukos, which appointed Lord Owen as its international chairman in 2002. The company was attacked by the Kremlin as part of a political dispute and forced into bankruptcy, despite the intervention of Lord Owen, who retired from his post last year. Even in its death throes, Yukos looked to an English lord to give it legitimacy. It hired Lord Gillford, head of Policy Partnership, the PR firm, to represent its side of the dispute to the Western press. 
- Khodorkovsky verdict: Business views Browder and Kraus
- FT.com / Industries / Energy & mining - Mysterious bidder pays $9.4 billion for Yukos unit
- Analysis: Gazprom's losing bid for Yukos? - (United Press International)
- Knight Ridder: Russia's dismantling of Yukos seen as part of a troubling trend
- Arrested oil tycoon passed shares to banker