Netherlands: Supreme Court acquits Moscow over Yukos case

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The Supreme Court of the Netherlands overturned a ruling ordering Moscow to pay $ 50 billion in damages to former shareholders of the Yukos oil company, acquitting Moscow, which had appealed against the decision. Amsterdam for retrial.

The oil giant Yukos, which has disbanded, is at the center of a court series that began with the arrest of its leader, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former oligarch and sworn enemy of the Kremlin.

The former shareholders of Yukos expressed after the announcement of the decision the belief that they will be justified.

The decision comes after seven years of legal adventures in Dutch courts, after an arbitral tribunal ruled in 2014 that Moscow had breached its international obligations by taking action to bankrupt Yukos, when it was Russia’s largest oil company.

“Today, the Supreme Court annulled the final decision of the Court of Appeal, as well as the previous decision of this court … The case was referred back to the Amsterdam Court of Appeal for retrial,” the Supreme Court said in a statement.

The Supreme Court explained that it ruled in favor of Russia on the basis of a point, which concerns a procedural issue, which results in “the decisions of the Court of Appeals can not be upheld.”

Supreme Court justices accepted Russia’s argument and ruled that the Court of Appeals should reconsider allegations that the former shareholders had committed fraud.

However, he rejected the other arguments made by Moscow, including Russia’s challenge to the court’s jurisdiction, and said the decision on jurisdiction was final.

Most of Yukos’ assets were absorbed by the Rosneft oil group. The former shareholders of Yukos sought the recovery of their assets by appealing to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based in The Hague. From there, the case made its way through the Dutch judicial system.

The former shareholders accused Russia of orchestrating the dissolution of the oil giant for political reasons, and Moscow was initially sentenced in 2014 by the Permanent Court of Arbitration to pay $ 50 billion in damages.

A court in The Hague had ruled that the former shareholders were entitled to compensation for the dissolution of the oil group following the arrest of Michal Khodorkovsky in 2003.

Moscow refused to pay the compensation and appealed to the Dutch court, launching a seven-year court series to appeal against the ruling.

Yukos was founded in the 1990s after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Entrepreneurs, including Mikhail Khodorkovsky, amassed vast fortunes by acquiring Soviet Union assets at a low price, especially in the raw materials sector, when the country was in deep crisis.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky received a pardon from Vladimir Putin in December 2013 and has since lived abroad and is not involved in the Yukos court adventure

Record amount

The Yukos case marks the moment when Vladimir Putin took control of the Russian oligarchs, whose influence in the Russian political system reached its peak under the leadership of Boris Yeltsin.

GML, a company in which former Yukos shareholders are involved, considers that it is entitled to compensation for the losses caused by the dissolution of the Russian oil giant.

In its 2014 ruling, the Permanent Court of Arbitration awarded a record amount of damages in court records, upholding its ruling in a 1994 multilateral agreement, the Energy Charter Treaty.

However, a Dutch court overturned the decision in 2016, arguing that the CPA has no jurisdiction to rule because Moscow has signed the Energy Charter Treaty but has not ratified it.

A Dutch appeals court then reversed the original ruling in 2020, prompting Russia to appeal to the Dutch Supreme Court.

Last April, the chief judicial adviser of the Supreme Court suggested that the Russian appeal be rejected.

Diplomatic intensity

Following today’s ruling by the Supreme Court, the court series continues.

And even if the former shareholders are acquitted one day, they will have to be patient, because they will have to go through new lawsuits to seize Russian assets in many countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, until to see the color of $ 50 billion.

These proceedings began in 2020 with the seizure of assets in the Netherlands by two emblematic distilleries, Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya.

The ruling of the Supreme Court is likely to exacerbate the climate of tension between the Netherlands and Russia, whose relations are being tested.

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Source From: Capital

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