Dutch Supreme Court rules on Yukos case

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La Hey (AFP) – The Dutch Supreme Court on Friday delivered its ruling in a massive case between former oil conglomerate Yukos and former shareholders of the Russian state, having previously ordered them to pay $50 billion in compensation.

Russia was initially ordered to indemnify them in 2014 by an international court based in The Hague, accusing ex-shareholders of conspiring to destroy Yukos for political reasons.

The Permanent Arbitration Court (PCA) ruled that the former shareholders were entitled to compensation for the dissolution of Yukos following the 2003 arrest of its former owner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a declared enemy of the oligarch and Kremlin.

Moscow has refused to pay and for the past seven years has struggled to overturn the verdict in Dutch courts.

“We are patiently awaiting the decision, we are confident of its outcome,” Jonathan Hill, a spokesman for Yukos’ former shareholders, told AFP.

Moscow did not comment ahead of the verdict, which is due to be released at 10:30 a.m. (9:30 a.m. GMT).

Yukos, the first Russian black gold producer, was founded in the 1990s after the collapse of the USSR. Businessmen, including Mr. Khodorkovsky, made fortunes by acquiring Soviet assets at low prices, especially in the commodities sector, as the country plunged into a deep crisis.

Yukos was sold between 2004 and 2006 to the largely Russian state-owned oil conglomerate Rosneft.

Pardoned by the Russian president in December 2013, Mr Khodorkovsky is living in exile and is not part of the case.

record totals

The Yukos case is widely seen as the moment Vladimir Putin brought the great Russian oligarchs to heel, whose influence on the political system reached its peak under Boris Yeltsin.

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GML, a company that brings together former majority shareholders of Yukos, believes it deserves compensation for losses caused by the oil giant’s dissolution.

Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky in Venice on August 31, 2019 Alberto’s Pizza AFP / Archives

The PCA ruled in his favor in 2014 and allocated him a record amount in the history of the jurisdiction, based on its ruling on the Energy Charter Treaty, a multilateral agreement since 1994.

But in a surprise change, a Dutch court overturned the decision in 2016, saying the PCA was “not competent” to rule because Moscow signed but did not ratify the treaty.

A Dutch appeals court then reinstated the original sentence in 2020, later giving rise to a Russian appeal to the Supreme Court. Last April, the body’s principal legal adviser recommended that the appeal be dismissed.

diplomatic tension

But the Yukos legal saga may not end on Friday. According to observers, the case may still be referred to the Court of Appeal or the European Court of Appeal.

And even if the ex-shareholders are successful, they will have to be patient as it will lead to legal proceedings to confiscate Russian assets in several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, so that $50 of Color can be seen. Arab.

These proceedings have begun in 2020 with the seizure of assets of two emblematic Russian vodka brands, Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya, in the Netherlands.

The Dutch Supreme Court’s decision could fuel an atmosphere of tension between The Hague and Moscow, whose relations have been plagued by a number of disputed cases in the courts.

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