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Eutelsat pays up on RSCC dispute

Eutelsat has been involved for much of the past year in a dispute between the Russian government and the country’s Yukos oil and energy company.

Under dispute was $400 million (€375.4m), and a portion of assets worth around $1 billion, initially seized on the orders of the French government and owed by Eutelsat to Russia’s Roscosmos (Russia’s Satellite Communications Company, RSCC). Last week it emerged that Eutelsat had paid the amounts due in full, even though certain appeals were still running in Paris (and which did not directly involve Eutelsat).

The background to the case was that back in July 2014 an arbitration court at The Hague ruled that Russia was obliged to pay $50 billion for expropriating the assets of Yukos. The court ruled that the Russian authorities had destroyed Yukos by filing massive tax evasion claims against the company after oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky fell out with President Vladimir Putin. Khodorkovsky himself was not among the claimants, having transferred his shares to business partners.

A French court (Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris/the High Court of Paris) ruled in April the lift of the “attachment” (lien) over the cash owed by Eutelsat to RSCC. The French court has held that the attached assets did not belong to the Russian Federation but were the property of RSCC. Consequently, and therefore, they could not be identified as the Russian Federation’s debt.

“We are satisfied with the equitable decisions of the French court”, commented Yuri Prokhorov, RSCC Director-General, last April. “Also, we are looking forward to further successful cooperation with our strategic partner, Eutelsat, in satellite communications and digital broadcasting”.

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