Yukos Timeline: Legal saga of ex Russian oil giant
Petroleumworld 11 05 2021
As the Netherlands Supreme Court is set to rule Friday on the $50-billion case involving Yukos, once Russia's biggest oil company, we look back at the key developments in the near-two decade saga.
- Khodorkovsky behind bars -
Yukos was created as part of the carve-up of assets belonging to the former Soviet Union in the 1990s, the period that created Russian oligarchs like Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the company's main shareholder.
After sponsoring opposition parties and criticising the Kremlin, Khodorkovsky is pulled off his private jet on October 25, 2003 and thrown in jail.
He is convicted in 2005 of fraud and tax evasion and sentenced to eight years in prison, but other charges follow and he spends more than a decade behind bars before being released in December 2013.
- Frozen assets -
Russian prosecutors sequester 44 percent of the shares in Yukos on October 30, 2003, and a planned merger with Russian oil group Sibneft is cancelled in November.
In May 2004, the group is ordered to pay the equivalent of $3.4 billion in back taxes and interest for the year 2000 alone.
In all, Russian tax authorities will claim about $27 billion from Yukos.
The group's bank accounts are blocked in July 2004, and on September 19, 2004, Yukos says it cannot honour its contracts and suspends oil deliveries to China.
- Company carved up -
In mid-October 2004, justice officials announce the sale of Yukos' main production facility, Yuganskneftegaz, to pay part of what Yukos owes the state.
Yukos directors flee Russia as investigations multiply.
On December 23, 2004, Rosneft acquires Yuganskneftegaz via the purchase of Baikalfinansgroup, which had just bought the production unit at a disputed auction for $9.35 billion.
- Rosneft takes over -
Khodorkovsky says from prison that he has sold his 60 percent stake in holding company Group Menatep Ltd (GML) to partner Leonid Nevzlin, who sought refuge in Israel in 2003.
Rosneft obtains in April 2005 the freezing of more Yukos assets to settle fresh claims of $5.8 billion.
A month later, Yukos is ordered to pay Rosneft $2.2 billion for deliveries of oil to Yuganskneftegaz from July to December 2004.
- Yukos liquidated -
A Moscow commercial court places Yukos in liquidation on August 1, 2006.
State-owned Rosneft becomes the largest Russian oil company the following year after it buys three of Yukos's biggest groups of assets at auction and the former oil giant's headquarters.
- Moscow charge and appeal -
An arbitration court in The Hague on July 28, 2014, orders Russia to pay Yukos shareholders a record $50 billion in compensation for its seizure.
Moscow appeals and the decision is overturned in 2016 by a Dutch court, which concludes the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) does not have the powers to rule.
In February 2020, the appeals court at The Hague, in turn, invalidates that decision, deeming the PCA competent and confirming the order to pay the $50 billion in compensation.
Moscow challenges the decision in the Dutch Supreme Court.
By Agence France-Presse
afp.com 11 05 2021