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Russia, Yukos Back In Court Over $50 Billion Appeal

Former shareholders of the now-defunct oil giant Yukos and Russian government lawyers began procedures on Monday for an appeal over US$50 billion that Moscow and ex-Yukos shareholders have been dragging through the courts since 2005.

Former Yukos owner and critic of the Kremlin, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was arrested in 2003 and convicted of theft and tax evasion two years later. Yukos was broken up and sold off to state companies, including Rosneft. Khodorkovsky was released from jail in 2013 after Vladimir Putin pardoned him.

In the meantime, former Yukos shareholders sued for compensation for the assets they lost, which they claim were expropriated by the Russian government. In 2014, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that Russia must pay US$50 billion to the ex-Yukos shareholders.

Russia has refused to pay up, and two years later, in April 2016, The Hague District Court reversed the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the grounds that it lacked jurisdiction to arbitrate in the case.

“With the arbitration awards quashed, the Russian Federation is no longer liable for paying compensation to these parties,” The Hague District Court said back then.

Now ex-Yukos shareholders are appealing The Hague District Court’s overturning of the ruling.

On Monday, lawyers of Yukos and Russia were back in court for an initial hearing at the Court of Appeal in The Hague, and judge Bas Boele ordered the former Yukos shareholders to submit the arguments on the merits of their appeal by January 31, Russia’s news agency TASS reports.

A representative for Russia, Albert Jan van den Berg, told the court yesterday that “The Russian Federation has a significant interest in an expedient and concentrated conduct of this appeal.” Admitting that US$50 billion is a “massive amount” even for Russia, Van den Berg stated that Russia was “entitled to obtain a final decision upholding the judgement of the District Court as quickly as possible.”

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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