A U.S. judge on Thursday dismissed Russian oil company YUKOS’ U.S. bankruptcy case, saying the issue belonged in a forum that included the participation of the Russian government
The ruling, which came just hours after a summit between President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Bratislava, ends two months of legal maneuvering by YUKOS to pull the U.S. courts into the ongoing battle between the company and the Kremlin.
YUKOS has complained it was the victim of a Russian government-orchestrated campaign to destroy it and former owner Mihkail Khodorkovsky, who is facing a 10-year prison term for fraud and tax evasion.
The Russian government, which has levied a $27.5 billion back tax bill on YUKOS, has steadfastly denied it would abide by any rulings from U.S. courts on the issue, and did not appear as a participant in the case.
“The vast majority of the business and financial activities of YUKOS continue to occur in Russia. Such activities require the continued participation of the Russian government,” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Letitia Clark wrote in her ruling.
YUKOS made its surprise bankruptcy filing in Houston in December in a failed bid to halt the sale of its main oil-producing arm.
Russian authorities sold YUKOS’s Yuganskneftegaz at auction in December despite restrictions imposed by Judge Clark. The unit was bought by a previously unknown group for $9.4 billion, which itself was subsequently bought by state-controlled oil company Rosneft.