Yukos share­hold­ers say Rus­sian state as­sets frozen in France

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS -

Yukos share­hold­ers said Thurs­day that Rus­sian gov­ern­ment as­sets in France in­clud­ing bank ac­counts and real es­tate had been frozen in a dis­pute over com­pen­sa­tion for the seizure of the de­funct oil gi­ant.

“It’s bank ac­counts and real es­tate,” Tim Os­borne, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of main share­holder GML, told AFP, adding that ac­counts in around 40 banks had been frozen along with “eight or nine build­ings.”

He said the as­set freeze oc- curred two weeks ago but had only been “leaked” by Rus­sia on Thurs­day. There was no im­me­di­ate of­fi­cial con­fir­ma­tion from Moscow or Paris.

“Pro­ceed­ings are al­ready un­der way in Bri­tain and the United States and fur­ther coun­tries will fol­low,” he said, fol­low­ing a move by Bel­gium to freeze Rus­sian gov­ern­ment ac­counts which sparked anger in Moscow.

Os­borne ex­plained that leg­is­la­tion in Bel­gium and France made it eas­ier to freeze as­sets pend­ing the out­come of the Yukos com- pen­sa­tion dis­pute.

The Per­ma­nent Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion in The Hague ruled last year that Moscow had forced Yukos — once owned by Krem­lin critic Mikhail Khodor­kovsky — into bank­ruptcy with out­sized tax claims be­fore selling its as­sets to state-owned firms.

Rus­sia was or­dered to pay com­pen­sa­tion to share­hold­ers to sub­sidiaries of Gi­bral­tar- based Group Me­natep, through which Khodor­kovsky ran Yukos.

The group ex­ists to­day as hold­ing com­pany GML, although Khodor­kovsky is no longer in­volved and is not a party to the com­pen­sa­tion claim.

Yukos was once Rus­sia’s big­gest oil com­pany but was bro­ken up af­ter Khodor­kovsky was ar­rested in 2003, shortly af­ter Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin warned Rus­sia’s grow­ing class of oli­garchs against med­dling in pol­i­tics.

It was sold off in opaque auc­tions be­tween 2004 and 2006.

Khodor­kovsky was granted res­i­dency in Switzer­land af­ter be­ing re­leased in 2013.

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