Yukos shareholders fight Russia’s immunity claim in $60 billion case

By Sam Tobin

LONDON (Reuters) – Former Yukos investors told London’s High Court on Wednesday that Russia could not claim state immunity to avoid an arbitration award now worth nearly $60 billion over the expropriation of the defunct oil group.

Three former Yukos shareholders, Hulley Enterprises, Yukos Universal and Veteran Petroleum, were awarded a little more than $50 billion by an arbitration tribunal in The Hague in 2014, on the grounds Russia had deliberately bankrupted Yukos.

They have since attempted to enforce the award – which has swelled to nearly $60 billion with interest now running at $2.5 million a day – in Britain, the United States and the Netherlands.

The lawyer for the former shareholders, Jonathan Crow, said on Wednesday that “Russia has paid nothing and, indeed, has made various public statements that it intends to pay nothing.”

A pause on the case in London, imposed in 2016 while Russia challenged the arbitration award in the Netherlands, was lifted last year after the Dutch Supreme Court rejected a jurisdictional challenge in 2021.

Crow argued that, as a result of the Dutch ruling, Russia was barred from asserting state immunity in London.

However, Russia’s lawyers say the Dutch Supreme Court upheld one ground of Russia’s appeal and ruled that its argument that shareholders provided false evidence was wrongly rejected, sending that issue back to a lower court.

Khawar Qureshi argued in court filings that the issue of whether Russia has immunity cannot be decided until the Dutch courts have given a final ruling on the case. (This story has been corrected to add a dropped word in paragraph 1)

(Reporting by Sam Tobin; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)