Feb. 18 (UPI) -- A Dutch appellate court on Tuesday reinstated a $50 billion arbitration award filed against the Russian government on behalf of the shareholders of the long-defunct Yukos Oil Co.
The Hague Court of Appeal ruling reversed a 2016 District Court decision that had negated the award to Yukos shareholders, which was originally ordered by the Netherlands' Permanent Court of Arbitration -- the largest arbitration ruling in Dutch legal history.
The panel had originally ruled that the Kremlin, in one of the first major moves of President Vladimir Putin's campaign to rein in Russia's powerful oligarchs, fraudulently seized control of Yukos in 2003 by filing bogus tax claims against it. Its founder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russia's richest man at the time, was arrested.
The Dutch panel ordered Russia to pay former shareholders $50 billion in compensation, setting off a 15-year legal battle.
Moscow had gotten a favorable ruling from The Hague District Court in 2016 when it found the arbitration panel had misread an international treaty that Russia signed but never ratified.
The appellate court, however, disagreed with that opinion.
"The result is that the arbitral award of July 18, 2014, is back in force," the appellate court said in a statement. "The Russian Federation can appeal the Supreme Court against the decision of the court."
Russian Justice Ministry said it would appeal.
The Hague Court of Appeal, it said, "ignored the fact that the former Yukos shareholders were not bona fide investors. Control over the assets of this company was obtained by them through a number of illegal actions, including conspiracy and bribery of officials."