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AMSTERDAM, Oct 31 (Reuters) - A Dutch court nullified on Wednesday all decisions taken by the Russian receiver of bankrupt oil firm YUKOS related to the company’s Dutch assets.
The court said receiver Eduard Rebgun, who had replaced the management of Dutch-based YUKOS Finance BV and put all assets, worth about $2 billion, up for sale, had no right to do so and all his actions should be reversed.
“Russian bankruptcy of YUKOS was not in line with Dutch principles of law,” the court said in its ruling, adding it could not recognise the bankruptcy or Rebgun’s rights as a caretaker.
Russia said in August it had sold the assets of YUKOS Finance BV, which included a 49 percent stake in Slovak pipeline operator Transpetrol. YUKOS Finance also had about $1.5 billion in cash.
YUKOS, once Russia’s largest oil producer, was founded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky and declared bankrupt after Russia raised huge back-tax demands that it was unable to settle. Khodorkovsky is now serving an eight-year prison term in Siberia on charges of tax evasion.
Russian state-controlled Rosneft became the country’s largest oil producer and refiner following a string of state-forced auctions of YUKOS assets.
Former YUKOS owners say its bankruptcy was Kremlin revenge on Khodorkovsky for his political ambitions and criticism of the government.
The Dutch court said on Wednesday YUKOS was denied a fair trial to establish how much back tax it had to pay to the Russian government.
The managers of YUKOS Finance BV moved the assets in 2005 to its unit YUKOS International UK BV, which then transferred its shares to the Dutch Stichting Administratiekantoor YUKOS International in exchange for certificates.
The Dutch-based company's assets include the proceeds of the sale of a 54 percent stake in Lithuanian refinery Mazeikiu MNF1L.VL, for almost $1.5 billion, and a 49 percent stake in Slovak oil pipeline operator Transpetrol, worth between $100 million and $200 million.
Receiver Rebgun sacked Bruce Misamore and David Godfrey, two managers of the foreign YUKOS unit, in August last year, hours after a Dutch court ruled that it was within Rebgun’s rights to call for a meeting to discharge the managers.
The ruling was upheld by a higher court, but the judges did not look into the details of the YUKOS bankruptcy.
The managers filed a separate case asking the Dutch court to rule on the bankruptcy of YUKOS in Russia.
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