Chief prosecutor Dmitry Shokhin asked a Moscow court to find Khodorkovsky guilty on tax evasion and other charges on Tuesday.

Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev have been the target of a lengthy court process stemming from the allegedly illegal acquisition of shares in a fertiliser-component maker in 1994.

However, the court ruled that the statute of limitations on the fertiliser case had expired and the only charges on which the two men could be sentenced were tax evasion and document fraud.

"We were sure that they would ask for the maximum," said Genrikh Padva, the head of Khodorkovsky's legal team.

Khodorkovsky has repeatedly denied that he is guilty of any charges and noted that under the law of the time, the deals were not illegal.

The criminal case against Khodorkovsky and a parallel tax case against Yukos have reduced the company - once Russia's largest oil producer - to a shell of its former self.

President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly contended that both investigations targeted a rotten business empire and its owners.