25 July 2016, 17:18
Former Yukos shareholders no longer claim Russian land site in Paris - defense lawyers for Russia
Moscow, July 25, Interfax - Former Yukos shareholders have dropped their claims to the land site in Paris owned by Russia where a spiritual-cultural center is being built, Andrey Kondakov, the head of the International Legal Protection Center, said.
"Our opponents, namely the lawyers and former Yukos shareholders, have dropped their claims to the land site where the construction of a Russian spiritual-cultural center in Paris is being completed, which is located neat the Eiffel Tower. Our lawyers have received a notice from the plaintiff to this effect," Kondakov told Interfax on Monday.
This "will help complete this very important project within the designated time," he said.
"It was one of the most high-profile cases. It drew active attention from the public and the press. The Yukos lawyers have more than once stated their intention to actively seek and seize Russian assets in France, emphasizing their readiness to even arrest a church. They received a court ruling to suspend the construction and simultaneously seized the land site on which this construction is being done," Kondakov said.
He did not rule out that representatives of the former shareholders may drop their claims seeking other seizures and been fully drop their claims in some other countries in the nearest future.
According to earlier reports, Group Menatep Limited subsidiaries Hulley Enterprises (Cyprus) and Yukos Universal Limited (isle of Man), which held a total of 51% of the Yukos shares, filed a lawsuit against Russia with The Hague court seeking to recover a total of $28.3 billion in 2006. The total amount of claims made to Russia, including the lawsuit filed by the Yukos pension fund Veteran Petroleum Ltd., reached $33.1 billion. The compensation was later increased.
In July 2014, an arbitration court in The Hague unanimously granted the lawsuit filed by Group Menatep Limited (GML), which represented the interests of the oil company Yukos, and compelled Russia to pay $50 billion. In November 2014, Russia filed three motions with The Hague District Court seeking a reversal of the arbitration rulings handed out by the arbitration court in The Hague in the lawsuits filed by former Yukos shareholders.
Nevertheless, the former Yukos shareholders in May 2015 began the process of enforcing The Hague court's decision in the courts of the U.S., France and the UK, without waiting for a decision on the appeal filed by Russia. In mid June 2015, it became known that Belgium had seized the accounts of Russian establishments, including diplomatic missions, on the basis of a decision made by the Belgian arbitration court of July 18, 2014 on the lawsuit filed by the company Yukos Universal Ltd. The amount of the lawsuit stated in it was 1.7 billion euros. The arrest was lifted from the accounts of the diplomatic missions in Belgium a week later.
Bailiffs have begun seizing Russian property in France on the same ruling. The accounts of diplomatic missions in the bank VTB France were blocked on June 2, 2015. VTB informed the Russian Foreign Ministry, which managed to unblock the accounts of the embassies, UNESCO offices and other organizations that had diplomatic status within 24 hours.
In summer 2015, former Yukos shareholders made attempts to claim their rights to a land site on the Branly Embankment on the basis of an exequatur issued by a French court on the decisions made by The Hague International Tribunal. However, a Paris court recognized the diplomatic immunity of the facility and did not block the construction of the said center.
In the meantime, the Russian authorities said more than once that Russia is taking appropriate measures to defend its property abroad in the event of attempts to seize it under The Hague court's decision compelling Russia to pay $50 billion to the former Yukos shareholders. On March 25, 2016, Russian Investigative Committee official Vladimir Markin said the decision made by the international arbitration court in The Hague ordering Russia to pay $50 billion to the former Yukos shareholders was not subject to execution as the plaintiffs had breached the current procedures.