An Admission of Guilt in the Yukos Auctions?

Today the Financial Times is reporting that the American entities who purchased stolen Yukos assets in August actually approached former management in an attempt to clear the titles. If this isn’t the most clear demonstration of complicity to a crime, than I don’t know what is. More comments on this story to come…

Investors made backdoor Yukos approach By Catherine Belton in Moscow A group of western investors that bought the final set of Yukos assets, which included Dutch unit Yukos Finance BV, approached the oil group’s former management to obtain assurances about the assets just days before the bankruptcy auction, former Yukos management said. “We’ve made it clear for the past several weeks that this auction is totally illegal,” said Bruce Misamore, Yukos’s former chief financial officer and former director of Yukos Finance BV. “It is a strange situation when someone wins an illegal auction and comes to you in advance and tries to grease the skids.” US real estate company Monte Valle bought the last lot of Yukos assets on August 15 for $305m via a former unit of Rosneft, the Russian oil group. Mr Misamore and two other Yukos executives, David Godfrey and Daniel Feldman, told the Financial Times that the group of investors behind the Monte Valle bid included a representative of Moscow investment bank Renaissance Capital and another from US hedge fund VR Capital. They claimed that two members of the group, Renaissance Capital vice-president Bob Foresman and VR Capital president Richard Deitz, had called to ask them to unwind the legal attachments protecting the assets from the bankruptcy sale, saying that in return, state-run Rosneft would drop its creditors’ claims on the Dutch holding. Mr Feldman said Mr Foresman had called him two days before the sale, “to know if there was a way to make a deal that would provide them with comfort”. “He called the day before the auction and said you have to understand if we can work out a compromise you can come back and work in Russia.” Mr Feldman left Russia in February, fearing arrest. The claims could not be fully verified: Mr Foresman declined to comment. Mr Deitz said he did not recall all the details of his conversation with Mr Godfrey. Mr Deitz said he had “never in his life” met with Rosneft, while Monte Valle owner Stephen Lynch also said he had no talks with Rosneft or the authorities prior to the sale. The allegations are the latest twist in a bankruptcy process marred from the outset by claims it has been rigged in favour of Rosneft. The oil group snapped up most of Yukos’s remaining production units and refineries at a knockdown price after rivals bowed out just minutes into the sales. The Dutch subsidiary, which holds $1.5bn in cash proceeds from the sale of Yukos’s stake in a Lithuanian refinery and a 49 per cent stake in Slovak pipeline operator Transpetrol, is still at the centre of a complex legal wrangle for control between the Yukos Finance BV former directors, Yukos’s liquidator and Rosneft. Yukos Finance BV’s former management claim that while court proceedings are in train the buyers of the Rosneft unit have no title to the Dutch assets.