Former Yukos shareholders have suffered yet another defeat in the fight for compensation of $ 50 billion, which they have been trying to recover from the Russian government since 2005 for the loss of their assets as a result of the bankruptcy of a mining holding. This time, the appeal to the former co-owners of the once-largest domestic oil corporation was denied by the Court of Appeals of the US Capital District of Columbia, which announced in its ruling that the case was closed. However, in this case, the beneficiaries of the company themselves asked to reject the previously filed appeal. Experts believe that such a maneuver may be related to the desire of the plaintiffs to return the process to the legal space of Europe, whose courts in the past more willingly sided with them.
The ex-shareholders of Yukos asked to close the case in the American court of appeal at the end of 2020. The explanatory note provided to the court said that the plaintiffs had managed to agree on the claims made earlier “with the second party” and “to determine the procedure for paying the expenses.” The details of the negotiations and who was meant as the “second party” were not disclosed. Then the Arbitration of the Metropolitan District of Columbia adopted a fairly balanced, albeit somewhat unclear verdict: to suspend the proceedings until November 18, 2022. By that time, a parallel process with similar requirements should be completed, which is still pending before the Supreme Court of the Netherlands. Now the American court has declared “to discontinue the case.”
Recall that compensation of $ 50 billion (including fines and other penalties, this amount increased to almost $ 60 billion), the former beneficiaries of Yukos – subsidiaries of the Menatep group Yukos International, Hulley Enterprises and Veteran Petroleum, which owned a controlling stake in the oil company, are trying sue the Russian government since 2005. They celebrated their first victory in 2014, when the International Arbitration Court ordered our country to pay the specified amount. However, two years later, the District Court of The Hague overturned the decision of the previous instance, thereby upholding Moscow’s appeal. At first glance, this decision was technical in nature. Dutch judges considered that this European jurisdiction does not extend to Russia, since our country has not ratified the EU Energy Charter. Meanwhile, as the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation insisted,
Since then, the legal dislocation of the process was postponed several times until it reached the American legal platform. The case has now been closed in America. What will happen to the multibillion-dollar lawsuit next? According to Pavel Utkin, a leading lawyer of the Parthenon center, the former owners of Yukos could gradually become disillusioned with the possible support of Western courts. Their litigation with our country has been going on for more than 15 years, and the final verdict may be rendered in another two decades. Stakeholders may not live up to this point. Meanwhile, even a virtually frozen trial takes away from the plaintiffs several million dollars a month, which are paid to lawyers for the formal transfer of papers from one judicial office to another. Moreover, the founder of YUKOS, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, has long abstracted himself from the process, claiming that he resigned from the management of the oil company immediately after his arrest in 2003, and then completely left the list of the beneficiaries of Group Menatep. “One can only hope that in the end, the Western arbitration tribunals will oblige Russia to compensate for the losses incurred by our shareholders, but personally I will not receive a cent from this,” he assures.
However, it is possible that the ex-owners of the mining holding will continue to challenge Moscow’s refusal to pay indulgences and return the proceedings to European legal platforms, where they were already lucky. Only the chances for the favor of fortune with each judicial refusal remain less and less. According to lawyer Anton Imennov, the plaintiffs’ argumentation is narrowing, and many of the arguments presented by them have long been given a negative legal assessment.