Russia ordered to pay another USD 2.5 bn to other Yukos shareholders


Europe’s top human rights court awarded shareholders in Yukos EUR 1.9 billion (USD 2.6 billion) in damages on Thursday, a new blow to Russia days after some of the former oil company’s shareholders won USD 50 billion in The Hague, themoscowtimes.com informs. The Strasbourg-based court found that Russia had failed to “strike a fair balance” in its treatment of Yukos, once run by former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and had forced the company to pay excessive fees.
While the EUR 1.9 billion awarded by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is a fraction of the EUR 38 billion (USD 51 billion) which Yukos sought, it hits Russia hard at a time when the country is on the brink of recession and is reeling from tougher sanctions imposed by the West this week over its actions in Ukraine.
“We received the news with a great joy, this is an unprecedented decision, the court has never ever awarded such a big sum,” said Olga Pispanen, a spokeswoman for Khodorkovsky, who was arrested at gunpoint in 2003 and convicted of theft and tax evasion in 2005. He was released last year after 10 years in prison.
Yukos, once worth USD 40 billion, was broken up and nationalized a decade ago, with most of its assets handed to Rosneft, an energy giant run by an ally of President Vladimir Putin.
‘ECHR ruling, unfair and biased’
Russia’s Justice Ministry said the ECHR ruling was unfair and biased and said it could appeal within three months. The court also ruled Russia should pay EUR 300,000 (USD 402,000) in costs and expenses, plus any tax. Yukos had requested 4.3 million pounds (USD 7.3 million) in legal fees, USD 174,000 for costs of an expert report and USD 588,148 for other fees. “The awarded amount is already totally unprecedented in the human rights field,” said Jan Kleinheisterkamp, associate professor of law at the London School of Economics. “EUR 1.9 billion is humongous in terms of compensation granted by the ECHR,” he said. Yukos had argued in the ECHR that Russia had unlawfully seized it after imposing bogus taxes and via a sham auction. An interim ruling by the ECHR in 2011 found that Russia had not misused legal proceedings to destroy Yukos but ruled that enforcement proceedings used against Yukos had been disproportionate. The damages were being sought on behalf of all Yukos shareholders. There are around 55,000 named Yukos shareholders, some of which are funds representing a number of shareholders.

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