Russia’s top investigator says Khodorkovsky acquired Yukos shares illegally

Vladimir Markin file photo

(Interfax – March 25, 2016)

Russia’s Investigations Committee is close to proving that the shareholders of dissolved oil company Yukos acquired their shares unlawfully, spokesman Vladimir Markin has said. This would give Russia grounds to not pay the Yukos shareholders a 50bn dollars in damages pursuant to a 2014 Hague ruling.

“This is a case that can be characterised by the words ‘everybody knows it, but they cannot prove it’,” Markin said. Investigators are “already close to proving that that is how it actually was,” privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax quoted him as saying on 25 March.

“There is evidence in the form of documents,” he clarified.

According to Markin, exiled former Yukos co-owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky “didn’t pay a penny for his share in the company”.

Two days ago, Interfax quoted an unnamed “informed source” as saying that Russian law enforcers had proof that Yukos’ shareholders had obtained their shares “unlawfully, by means of fraud”.

“Thus, the foreign legal entities controlled by former Yukos top managers and co-owners had no legal grounds to claim 50bn dollars from Russia at the arbitration court at The Hague,” the source said, as reported on 23 March.

Khodorkovsky’s spokeswoman Kulle Pispanen later denied the allegations, calling them “the latest attempt to frighten political opponents”, independent Dozhd TV reported that day.

In July 2014 the court of arbitration in The Hague unanimously satisfied a claim made by former shareholders of Yukos and ordered Russia to pay them 50bn dollars. Russia did not agree with this decision; however, Russian assets began to be frozen in a number of states.

[featured image is file photo]