The Hague, Netherlands (AP) – The Dutch Supreme Court is delivering a ruling on Friday in a $50 billion legal battle between Russia and former shareholders of the country’s bankrupt oil giant Yukos.
If the highest Dutch court rules in favor of former shareholders in the long-running legal battle, it would likely lead them to attempt to seize Russian assets around the world, which were awarded to them in an arbitration case. For recovery of 50 billion – supposedly. The world’s largest arbitrator award ever.
An international panel of arbitrators concluded in 2014 that Moscow seized control of Yukos in 2003 by deliberately crippling the company with huge tax claims. The move was seen as an attempt to silence Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin.
Khodorkovsky was arrested at gunpoint in 2003 and spent more than a decade in prison after Yukos’ core assets were sold to a state-owned company. Yukos eventually went bankrupt.
The arbitrators said in their 2014 ruling, “The state launched an outright attack on Yukos and its beneficial owners in order to bankrupt Yukos and justify his assets, as well as remove Mr. Khodorkovsky from the political arena.”
Moscow appealed the arbitration’s decision, and a Dutch court in The Hague overturned the decision in 2016, saying the arbitration panel did not have jurisdiction, but an appeals court later overturned that decision. Russia appealed again, sending the case to the Supreme Court.
In April, an independent Supreme Court adviser recommended that its judges dismiss Russia’s appeal.
Khodorkovsky is not involved in the case, which was brought by united former shareholders in a company called GML Ltd.