The Financial Times reports that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, after nine years of deliberation, made a record damages award of $50 billion to Yukos shareholders, finding that
Through inflated tax claims, the ruling said, senior officials set out to destroy Russiaâ€™s then biggest oil company, transfer its assets to a state-controlled competitor â€“ Rosneft â€“ and put Mr Khodorkovsky in jail. …
Collecting may not be easy.
Though Russia cannot appeal against the award, Moscow said it would pursue all legal avenues for trying to get it â€œset asideâ€. It can try to argue in a Dutch national court that â€“ contrary to the tribunalâ€™s findings â€“ it was not bound by the Energy Charter Treaty, the agreement regulating cross-border energy business which Russia signed but never ratified, and withdrew from in 2009.
Even if the ruling stands, shareholders face a tortuous battle trying to enforce it. If Moscow refuses to pay, they must pursue Russian sovereign commercial assets in the 150 countries that are party to the so-called 1958 New York Convention on enforcing arbitration awards.
But the real kicker in the story is this:
One person close to Mr Putin said the Yukos ruling was insignificant in light of the bigger geopolitical stand-off over Ukraine. â€œThere is a war coming in Europe,â€ he said. â€œDo you really think this matters?â€
Hat tip to Vanderleun.