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Italian Press: Attorney Robert Amsterdam Warns ENI and Enel of Risks of Yukos Auction

Following a press conference held Thursday by Robert Amsterdam in Rome, the Italian press published the following articles: Finanza Mercati: I Legali di Khodorkovsky a Romo contro Eni ed Enel Finanza Mercati: Il round de Bonnani by Oscar Giannino Messagero: Eni-Gazprom, l’avvocato di Yukos va all’attacco Corriere della Sera: Eni ed Enel non partecipino alla falsa asta And from Dow Jones in Italy:

ROME (Dow Jones)–A lawyer for Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the jailed founder of OAO Yukos (YUKO.RS), Thursday said Italian energy giants Eni SpA (E) and Enel SpA (EN) could face a U.S. lawsuit if they buy any Yukos assets. Yukos’ remaining assets, which include significant oil and gas reserves inside Russia, are scheduled to be sold in a series of auctions in coming months. “I will not deny the possibility of a lawsuit, nor am I saying that I will do it,” lawyer Robert Amsterdam told a press conference in Rome. He said any subsequent lawsuit against the companies would be brought in the U.S., because Eni and Enel “operate there.” Eni has exploration and production activities in the U.S., while Enel has power generation operations in the country. Both companies have American Depositary Receipts traded in the U.S. “This conduct (of Eni and Enel) is high-risk,” said Amsterdam, adding that the companies’ reputations would suffer if they took part in the selloff. Yukos was pushed into bankruptcy last year after tens of billions of dollars of back-tax claims. The move was widely seen as a political showdown between the Kremlin and Khodorkovsky, who was arrested and then jailed by a Russia court. “Enel confirms its interest in the ex-Yukos asset of ArticGaz,” a spokeswoman for the Rome-based utility told Dow Jones Newswires. An Eni spokeswoman declined to comment. Eni and Enel are teaming up with Russian company ESN Group to bid for some of the former Yukos assets for which an auction is slated to take place in April. ArticGaz is one of the assets up for sale. The company has 4.56 billion barrels of oil equivalent in proved, probable and possible oil and gas reserves. Amsterdam said Eni and Enel would be participating in an auction that is “illegal” and that “legitimizes” the Kremlin’s seizure of the assets. “I am here today so that when Eni and Enel are called to account…they can’t say they didn’t have knowledge of the theft.” The lawyer, a partner at Toronto-based law firm Amsterdam & Peroff, said he has not met with representatives of the companies nor of the Italian government, nor has he plans to do so. The Italian state controls more than 30% of Eni and Enel. Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Italy last week to discuss various business deals, including in the energy sector. Last month Russian prosecutors issued money-laundering and embezzlement charges against Mikhail Khodorkovsky, which could add 15 years to his eight-year prison sentence if he is found guilty. Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003, and was sentenced in 2005 to nine years in prison for fraud and tax evasion, a sentence subsequently cut to eight years.