Ukraine is complaining to an American court about the threat of war with Russia
Ukraine has appealed to the Federal Court of the Southern District of New York (USA) to deny Tatneft a lawsuit against representatives of 52 banks as part of a recovery in favor of the oil company $ 173 million for the loss of a stake in Kremenchug refinery, according to Bloomberg. Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Credit Suisse, Danske Bank A / S, the Reserve Bank of Australia and other financial institutions have been summoned to court for information.
According to the Ukrainian side, this demand of Tatneft is a pretext for obtaining confidential information, in particular, about the financial and economic situation of Ukraine, in the context of the aggravation of the political situation between Moscow and Kiev.
Ukraine has filed a lawsuit against officials, including the country’s defense minister and ambassador to the United States, Bloomberg reports. In them, the Ukrainian side points out that the summons are formulated in such a way as to provide information that “has nothing to do” with the collection of data by court decision. These are allegedly assets and financial operations of Ukraine and third parties that play a key role in such strategic industries as defense, energy, transport and communications.
“In the context of the imminent threat of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a Russian oil company with close ties to the Russian government should not be allowed to use subpoenas as a pretext for obtaining confidential information on Ukraine’s military and national security and monetary stability.” , – Bloomberg quotes the statement of the Ukrainian side.
Tatneft’s largest shareholder is Tatarstan, which owns 34% of the company, 25% of the shares are owned by ADR, 3% are treasury shares, and minority shareholders own 38%.
Ukraine’s lawsuit against Tatneft is related to Ukrtatnafta, a company founded in 1994, which was set up to supply raw materials to the Kremenchug refinery located in Ukraine. Tatneft, together with the Tatarstan government, controlled 55.7% of the company. The remaining share belonged to the Ukrainian state company Naftogaz Ukrainy, as well as to the subsidiaries of the Ukrainian financial and industrial group Privat, controlled by Igor Kolomoisky. But in 2007, Russian shareholders lost control of Ukrtatnafta and it passed into the hands of structures affiliated with Kolomoisky.
In response, Tatneft initiated an arbitration case against Ukraine in 2008, citing violations of the Russian-Ukrainian agreement on the promotion and mutual protection of investments. In 2009, according to the decision of Ukrainian courts, Russian shareholders completely lost their stake in Ukrtatnafta. Then this decision was explained by the fact that the acquisition of shares was carried out in violation.
As a result, in 2014 alone, the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that Ukraine must pay Tatneft $ 112 million, as well as interest for the loss of a stake in Ukrtatnafta. The Ukrainian side has tried several times to appeal these decisions, but to no avail.
In turn, Tatneft filed three motions to comply with the decision of international arbitration – in the United States, Britain and Russia. In all three countries, the courts complied with Tatneft’s claims. In the United States, the case went to the United States Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, which in December 2021 upheld the decision of the international arbitration in The Hague. Taking into account interest and penalties in 2022, the total payment in favor of Tatneft increased to $ 173 million.
According to Dmitry Gorbunov, a partner at the law firm Rustam Kurmaev & Partners, Ukraine’s current request to deny a lawsuit to bank representatives is motivated by Kiev’s desire to at least prolong the case, at least delay it. According to the lawyer, the argument chosen by the Ukrainian side this time is extremely incomprehensible, as the interrogation of witnesses is an integral part of the trial. “The plaintiff’s opponents are rather trying to illegally gain a procedural advantage for themselves against the background of political realities. But against the background of the obvious guilt of the opponent, this move is unlikely to allow Ukraine to evade the answer, “Gorbunov concluded.
Such cases are not considered as quickly in American courts as the business community, which is accustomed to more or less prompt resolution of issues in the CIS courts, said Marat Samarsky, a lawyer for the practice of international economic compliance Art de lex. He, like Gorbunov, believes that this requirement is quite typical for such proceedings and is an attempt to prolong the process.
The lawyer added that the proceedings on the political component of the case are unlikely to be significantly stalled, as the Russian company will have the opportunity to appeal the decision if the call of bank representatives is blocked. “All the current practice is on the side of Tatneft, and the procedural behavior of Ukraine only encourages judges to support the position of the Russian company,” – said Samarsky.
In his opinion, the law enforcement practice of American courts in this case is clearly on the side of Tatneft. As an example, he cited cases of investment disputes between American investors and host Argentina. Samarsky noted that this practice is referred to, in particular, by the Federal Court of the Southern District of New York in the Tatneft case. “Information about a party’s assets for the purposes of enforcing a judgment is crucial, and its importance is crucial for full disclosure,” the U.S. court said in a statement.