Russia’s Rosneft Nailed in Yukos Suit for $389 Million

Kommersant, via Reuters, is reporting that a Dutch court has upheld a lawsuit brought by the former shareholders of Yukos against the Russian government – specifically Rosneft – obligating them to pay upwards of $389 million to compensate for the illegal seizure of Yukos assets.  Although courts in Russia are likely to protect the state-controlled company, the Dutch decision will allow for the ruling to be enforced, including seizure of assets, in the Netherlands.

The business daily called the ruling, which would allow the court to seize Rosneft assets abroad, the first success in a foreign court for former YUKOS managers seeking redress after the state bankrupted the oil company for tax debts and sold off its assets.

Kommersant said YUKOS Capital, an ex-YUKOS affiliate now owned by former managers, had originally won a ruling from the arbitration unit of Russia’s Chamber of Commerce ordering Rosneft, which bought production unit Yuganskneftegaz at auction, to pay back money lent to Yugansk by YUKOS Capital.

The ruling was overturned by Russia’s Supreme Arbitration Court, but on Tuesday, a Dutch court of appeals ruled that the original ruling could still be enforced in the Netherlands, Kommersant said.

Former YUKOS owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, jailed for eight years for tax evasion and fraud, is facing new charges in Moscow in a trial that is seen as a test of President Dmitry Medvedev’s commitment to uphold the rule of law.