Europe court orders Russia to pay S$3.17 bn euros over Yukos

People walk by the Yukos oil company headquarters in Moscow on July 8, 2004. The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday, July 31, 2014, ordered Russia to pay former shareholders in defunct oil giant Yukos almost 1.9 billion euros (S$3.17 bil
People walk by the Yukos oil company headquarters in Moscow on July 8, 2004. The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday, July 31, 2014, ordered Russia to pay former shareholders in defunct oil giant Yukos almost 1.9 billion euros (S$3.17 billion). -- PHOTO: REUTERS

STRASBOURG (AFP) - The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday ordered Russia to pay former shareholders in defunct oil giant Yukos almost 1.9 billion euros (S$3.17 billion).

The ruling comes just days after an international arbitration court in The Hague made a similar order for a record US$50 billion in compensation over Russia's seizure of the company once owned by Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

The decision by the rights court in Strasbourg related to tax claims by Moscow which forced Yukos into bankruptcy in 2007.

In its majority ruling, it said the "disproportionate character of the enforcement proceedings had significantly contributed to Yukos' liquidation".

Representatives of some 55,000 former shareholders were seeking damages of almost 38 million euros.

In September 2011, the court had found that certain parts of the tax enforcement procedures against Yukos were a breach of shareholders' fundamental rights.

Russia is already under pressure over the conflict in Ukraine, after the United States and the European Union this week imposed tough new sanctions on key financial, arms and energy sectors.

Yukos was once Russia's biggest oil company but was broken up after Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003, shortly after President Vladimir Putin warned Russia's growing class of oligarchs against meddling in politics.