Thursday, June 07, 2007

"Yukos is not Enron", Lawyer Robert Amsterdam

(Photo de Akiko Miyake, FCCJ)

Ai assuré la présentation de la conférence de presse
de l'avocat Canadien Robert Amsterdam au FCCJ de
Tokyo, Robert est le défenseur de Mikhail

L'empire pétrolier Yukos de M. Khodorkovsky a été
démantelé en 2003, après que celui-ci eût été arrêté
pour fraude. Il purge présentement une peine de
prison en Sibérie. Il pourrait bientôt faire face à
de nouvelles accusations. Son défenseur s'inquiète de
la proximité d'uranium dans sa prison sibérienne me
confiait il en fin de conférence.

Yukos a depuis été démantelée et vendue, avec la
participation de firmes européennes que Robert
Amsterdam accuse de "blanchir les réputations" afin de
demeurer dans les bonnes grâces de M. Poutine.

Un pavé dans la mare du G-8 de Heiligendamm.

- Le blog de Robert Amsterdam est complet sur les cas
d'abus aux droits humains, et apporte de nombreuses
informations sur les questions geopolitiques soulevees
par le levier petrolier et gazier de la Russie.

Citations: "Robert Amsterdam : Perspectives on Russia,
Europe, and International Affairs. On Orders from
Moscow (May 24).

Imagine my dismay when I picked up the International
Herald Tribune today, only to read the following
headline on front cover:

Europe's Energy Giants Call for Business as Usual with
Russia Yes, it seems that with particularly bad
timing, Eni of Italy, Gaz de France and E.ON Ruhrgas
of Germany have jointly called for business-as-usual
with Russia, despite growing tensions between Moscow
and Brussels over a broad range of issues.

Once firms become beholden to Gazprom and the Kremlin
in long-term deals, it seems they must fulfill an
unspoken contractual condition to evangelize against
the national interest of their own countries. At a
moment in which the European Union is struggling to
achieve solidarity and commit to a common energy
policy, enticing the Russians to ratify the Energy
Charter and creating a fair and equitable rule-based
system to de-politicize the energy trade, here come
three opportunistic firms seeking to undermine energy
security and pursue their own bilateral deals with
Gazprom." End of quotes

L'avocat Robert Amsterdam a été interviewé par mes
radios en France. Ses vives critiques sur l'affaire
Yukos citées ici dans PR Newswire:

Citations: (Anglais) LONDON, May 10 /PRNewswire/ -- As
the Russian bankruptcy liquidator organizes the final
auctions of Yukos, once Russia's largest and most
prestigious private oil company, an attorney for
political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky issued the
following comments:

"This is the ending we have been expecting for some
time," said Robert Amsterdam, international defense
counsel to Khodorkovsky. "From the beginning of the
attack on Yukos and the unlawful imprisonment of my
client, to the final rigged auction, the process has
been riddled with procedural and legal violations
which have thoroughly discredited any claim of
legitimacy to the charges by the State."

"The media is wont to say that the conclusion of the
Yukos affair marks the end of an era of vast personal
enrichment - but that's not true. Now it is the
siloviki inside the Kremlin lining their pockets under
the guise of public trust. I challenge the government
to show where the auction money is really going," Mr.
Amsterdam said. "The Kremlin would like you to
believe that Yukos was the Enron of Russia - but
that's not true, and there's no plausible explanation
how in 2004 the company should owe a preposterous
eight rubles tax for every one ruble of revenue, or
how the chief bankruptcy liquidator gets nominated for
the board of Rosneft next to the president's other

"The most shameful feature of the Yukos auctions has
been Russia's successful arm-twisting of energy
multinationals to provide a service of 'reputation
laundering' in the fencing of these stolen goods,"
said Mr. Amsterdam. "But let it be known to firms
such as ENI, Enel, BP, and Royal Dutch Shell who have
bought or expressed interest in bidding on Yukos
assets, that the number of accomplices does not lessen
the gravity of the crime. Aside from making a mockery
out of their pledges to corporate social
responsibility, their shameful attempts to curry favor
with a corrupt regime at the cost of human rights will
ultimately fail, and within the year these companies
will again face harassment from the authorities."

Robert Amsterdam, founding partner of Amsterdam &
Peroff, is international counsel to the political
prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He writes a blog at End of quotes

-*** Rappel de l'affaire: (En anglais)

Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky (born June 26, 1963)
is a Russian businessman, a former Komsomol activist
who became one of Russia's oligarchs at a very early
age. He was later convicted for fraud and tax evasion
and received a 9-year sentence. As of 2004,
Khodorkovsky was the wealthiest man in Russia, and was
the 16th wealthiest man in the world, although much of
his wealth evaporated because of the collapse in the
value of his holding in the Russian petroleum company

On October 25, 2003, Khodorkovsky was arrested at
Novosibirsk airport by the Russian prosecutor
general's office on charges of fraud. Shortly
thereafter, on October 31, the government under
Vladimir Putin froze shares of Yukos because of tax
charges. The Russian Government took further actions
against Yukos, leading to a collapse in the share
price. It purported to sell a major asset of Yukos in
December 2004.

On May 31, 2005, Khodorkovsky was sentenced to ten
years in prison, guilty of fraud. A wide variety of
international journalists, politicians, and
businessmen — both in Russia and internationally —
consider this process to be largely political; in
2003, prior to his arrest, Khodorkovsky funded a
Russian political opposition party. Though many
speculate that an independent court would have found
him guilty of fraud (mainly due to the circumstances
of his acquisition of vast sums of money during
privatization efforts after the collapse of the Soviet
economic system), the politics of the decision are
clear. Kremlin involvement has not been proven, but
many dispute the correctness of investigations and
court proceedings. Much of the "western" media
covering the situation tended to side with

In October 2005 he was moved into prison camp number
13 in the city of Krasnokamensk, Chita Oblast.

In March 2006, Forbes magazine surmised that
Khodorkovsky's personal fortune had declined to a
fraction of its former level, stating that he "still
has somewhere below $500m".

(Ref: Press reports, Forbes, Agencies, Blog)