Russia Ordered To Pay $50bn For Yukos Breakup
Russia has said it will contest a ruling by the arbitration court in The Hague after it was ordered to pay $50bn (£29.4bn) in damages to shareholders of the now defunct oil firm Yukos.
A panel of judges in the Netherlands said officials under President Vladimir Putin manipulated the legal system to bankrupt Yukos, formerly owned by Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Yukos, once Russia's largest oil company, was broken up after Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003. It was sold off to state companies.
In a statement, the court said: "Russian courts bent to the will of Russian executive authorities to bankrupt Yukos, assign its assets to a state-controlled company, and incarcerate a man who gave signs of becoming a political competitor."
The panel, which has been reviewing the case since 2005, said the claims were "mammoth arbitrations" which totalled $114bn (£67bn).
It added: "The primary objective of the Russian Federation was not to collect taxes but rather to bankrupt Yukos and appropriate its valuable assets."
In a statement, the Russian finance ministry said it would "contest the decisions of the arbitration court in Dutch courts and expects to get a fair result there".
The statement added that in its view, the court "had no jurisdiction to consider the questions it was given".
Khodorkovsky left Russia in 2013 after spending more than 10 years in prison.
Speaking on his website, he wrote: "It's great that the shareholders of the company get the chance of compensation of their losses.
"At the same time, I confirm that I am not a party in this legal process and I do not claim any personal financial gains from its results."
Lawyers said the ruling could be enforced through shareholders seizing assets abroad if it does not accept it.