THE HAGUE, September 30. /TASS/. Over the past three years, the Russian side has been able to strengthen its position in the case, in which former Yukos shareholders are trying to recover $50 billion from Russia, Head of the International Center for Legal Protection (ICLP) Andrei Kondakov told TASS in an interview on Monday.
"We are moderately optimistic," said Kondakov, the head of the organization representing Russia's interests in the Yukos case abroad. "In our opinion, over the past three years that have passed since The Hague District Court made its historic decision, our line of defense has strengthened, expanded and replenished with new facts and evidence. We managed to find new evidence of the illegal activities of opponents, new evidence that the dispute was not arbitrable at all: internal disputes related to state donation tax policy are not arbitrable in international court," he said.
The Monday meeting is final. At first, the judges asked questions that they had during the previous two days of the hearing (September 23 and 24). After that, each party was given an hour and a half to provide counter-evidence. "We will concentrate on our own line of defense and on the refutation of those statements of our opponents that were made in the first two days," Kondakov emphasized.
"I would also like to draw attention to the fact that our opponents have been somewhat dismissive of the decision, made in 2016, by The Hague District Court, saying that it is unfounded, not worked out and extremely strange," he continued. "It is no accident that our lawyer recalled that this decision was recognized by a number of international professional publications as the best legal decision in 2016, and judges received appropriate awards, while professional publications do not assign such high awards for no reason for unworked and unreasonable decisions. Moreover, our lawyers who have made this decision also received an award as the best lawyers of the year," he said.
Five years of litigation
The international arbitration created through the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2014 obliged Russia to pay about $50 bln to the companies associated with former Yukos shareholders — Yukos Universal Limited, Hulley Enterprises Limited and Veteran Petroleum Limited. The judges ruled that the actions of the Russian Federation with respect to Yukos violated Article 45 of the Energy Charter, which the country signed, but did not ratify. The Russian side appealed that a number of provisions of the treaty could not be applied to the Russian Federation without following the ratification procedure. On April 20, 2016, The Hague District Court declared the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s decisions invalid and dropped the obligations to pay $50 bln from Russia.
However, in the summer of 2016, the Yukos ex-shareholders appealed to The Hague Court of Appeal to reverse the district court’s decision and restore the arbitral awards to pay $50 bln. At the end of 2017, the Russian party sent a memorandum to The Hague Court of Appeal with a detailed response to the appeal. It put forward the position that the contract could not be applied to Russia; therefore, the arbitration tribunal did not have the purview to consider the claims. In addition, the memorandum expanded the arguments about unlawful acts committed during and after the privatization of Yukos. In particular, examples of manipulation and collusion during mortgage auctions, bribing state managers, creating an extensive network of shell companies to minimize taxes and exporting illegally acquired assets abroad, concealing the true beneficiaries of the supposedly foreign companies that filed lawsuits in The Hague against the Russian Federation are given.