Yukos ‘shareholders’ represent 55,000 shareholders and pensioners of Yukos.
The legal actions are brought by 5 oligarchs who stole the assets in the first place – so they are not shareholders. Anything awarded in Court will go to them.
Russia’s actions were politically motivated, as Khodorkovsky was seen as a threat to President Putin.
On behalf of the Russian people, the Ministry of Justice and the Federal Tax Service had a duty to act when it saw billions of tax dollars being stolen. This is no different to any other national government. In its ruling of 20th September 2011, the ECHR confirmed that the Russian Government took legitimate action to counter Yukos’ tax evasion.
It was the Yukos oligarchs’ investment and good management which drove the increase in value of the business.
Yukos had been successful even before privatization. Very little investment was made in the business under oligarch ownership. Yukos value was driven by the size of its oil reserves, not better management.
Yukos was a well-managed company with western standards of corporate governance.
The company abandoned a planned listing in the US due to its unwillingness to be transparent about its business practices and management record. The firm’s auditor, PWC, went as far as to withdraw its audit reports from 1996-2004 after discovering that Yukos had not been fully disclosing information to them.
Yukos set up a complex web of shell companies to safeguard - legitimately - the interests of its owners.
The oligarchs used complex ownership structures to:
a. disguise the auction-rigging
b. evade tax
c. move assets into international tax havens
d. siphon off sums for their own benefit
There could be no legitimate reason to have such a complex ownership structure.
The oligarchs won an unprecedented $50bn arbitral award in The Hague which was only overturned because the ECT was considered not to apply – but the substantive decision on Russian government wrongdoing was undisturbed.
The $50bn award rulings were flawed. They were overturned on the first of numerous grounds set out in the Russian Federation’s pleading note on appeal of the awards. Costs were awarded against the oligarchs.
Yukos was presented with an impossibly large tax bill that tipped it into bankruptcy.
The amount of money siphoned from the company is so significant that comparably the tax demand was only a portion of what could be claimed. Yukos received a tax demand for unpaid tax with the normal time to pay.
Yukos tax and business arrangements were the norm in Russia at that time.
Other Russian companies complied with tax laws and followed different standards in their business dealings. Yukos did not.
Russia is using the weight of a sovereign state against the interests of the oligarchs.
Anyone who breaks the law will face the consequences of their actions. If they break the law then make legal claims against the government overseas these will obviously be resisted.