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Leonid Nevzlin Pledges to Continue $100Bln Yukos Battle

Published: January 15, 2014 (Issue # 1793)



  • Leonid Nevzlin has announced he will continue the Yukos battle without the help of his former partner Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
    Photo: Brennan Linsley / AP

Businessman Leonid Nevzlin said that he would continue a $100 billion legal battle with the Russian government over the assets of defunct oil firm Yukos, in contrast to his former business partner Mikhail Khodorkovskys recent promise not to participate in the litigation.

Nevzlin, who emigrated to Israel in 2003 after the Russian authorities initiated the case that resulted in Yukos dismemberment, said that a decision on Yukos shareholders case against the Kremlin the biggest commercial lawsuit in history could be made in mid-2014. The shareholders have claimed $100 billion in damages for what they called illegal expropriation of Yukos assets by the Kremlin.

Nevzlin, a former co-owner of the oil company, was speaking following a meeting in Israel with former Yukos CEO Khodorkovsky, who was pardoned in December after serving more than 10 years in jail on tax evasion and embezzlement charges. Upon release, Khodorkovsky was immediately transported abroad by the Russian authorities.

Political analysts speculated that President Vladimir Putin may have released Khodorkovsky to secure either his non-involvement or assistance in the legal battle, which could deal an enormous blow to the Kremlin and lead to Russian government assets abroad being seized.

Gibraltar-registered Group Menatep Limited, which used to control Yukos, intends to achieve victory in this case and get compensation from the Russian Federation no matter what, Nevzlin told Dozhd television on Jan. 11.

He said, however, that Khodorkovsky has nothing to do with the case, which is being heard at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, and that they had largely ignored business matters during their meeting, talking instead about their children and the weather.

Yesterday I attempted to talk with Khodorkovsky about the revenues and expenditures of [Group Menatep Limited] and its shareholders but was sharply rebuffed. He is not interested in this, Nevzlin said.

He said he would continue to manage Khodorkovskys stake in Menatep.

Khodorkovsky has repeatedly said since his release that he would not return to business and would not fight for Yukos assets. Some analysts interpreted this as a condition set by Putin for his release.

Economist Andrei Illarionov, a former Putin aide, said in a LiveJournal post published on Jan. 9 that the president could have pardoned the former tycoon because he needed his help in reaching a settlement between Yukos shareholders and the Russian government.

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