Yukos vs. Russia

The long awaited, historic trial of Yukos shareholders vs. Russia is underway in Strasbourg.  We’re all very curious to see how the Kremlin’s high powered legal team will defend the theft of what was once Russia’s largest and most transparent company.  From the AFP:

“This was an expropriation by any other name,” Yukos lawyer Piers Gardner told the court in Strasbourg at the opening of the one-day hearing.

It was the first time in the decade-long saga that Yukos and Russian lawyers met face-to-face in an independent court, whose ruling will be binding on Russia as a member country.

Theseven-judge panel began deliberations almost immediately after thehearing and is expected to deliver a ruling later this year.

“Yukos’contention is that it fulfilled its responsibilities and paid its taxesjust as any other taxpayer would,” Gardner told a news conferencefollowing the brief, three-hour hearing.

“At the end of 2003, outof a virtually clear-blue sky, everything changed. There are politicalelements to this change,” he said.

The lawyer argued that Moscowauthorities moved with “speed and ferocity” against Yukos, seizingassets worth 33 billion euros to settle a tax bill of 2.8 billion euros.