Former shareholders of Yukos failed to start the procedure for the preparation of the arrested Russian buildings in Brussels to the sale at public auction — prevented the Belgian foreign Ministry, which warned that it could lead to “serious diplomatic incident”.
Today Belgian bailiffs were to proceed with the inventory of real property in Brussels, belonging to the FSUE “Goszagransobstvennost” and used the international news Agency “Russia today”. Belgian lawyers hired by the news Agency, were officially notified notary office Berquin authorized by the court of Brussels on the implementation of Executive production, that 16 February will be the procedure for the inventory of real property located at the address: 74, Rue de Merlo, 1180, Brussels, reported last week, “RIA Novosti”. The building is seized, so Russia can’t sell. “As a next stage of the Belgian notarial office today was to visit the building to prepare for public tenders,” — said the representative of the Gibraltar GML is a holding company for former majority shareholders of Yukos.
But the procedure was virtually blocked by the Belgian foreign Ministry, which, according to GML, “intervened in the interests of the Russian Federation and have informed the notary in an official letter that the building enjoys diplomatic immunity”. Foreign Minister of Belgium warned that further attempts to collect the building can provoke a “major diplomatic incident”.
Belgium is the only state whose authorities help Russia to avoid its obligations to pay shareholders of Yukos $50 billion in the Hague international arbitration, GML complains and expresses the hope that “the courts of Belgium will not allow to let them off and allow the sale of this and other property of the Russian Federation in Belgium”. The court hearing in Belgium on applications of Russia and the MIA “Russia today” about removal of arrest will be held in November 2016.
The representative of the foreign Ministry of Belgium stated that the state “intervenes, where possible, to protect the sovereign and diplomatic immunities of other States,” but declined to comment on pending litigation. The press service of the MIA “Russia today” refused to comment.
In July 2014 international arbitration in the Hague awarded former Yukos shareholders a record compensation of $50 billion, Russia refused to pay, after which the shareholders of Yukos have begun the process of compulsory execution of decisions in several Western jurisdictions — Belgium, France, Germany, UK, USA.
In Belgium the court of first instance in June 2015 issued the exequatur — permission for the execution of the verdict of the Hague international arbitration, after which the bailiffs on behalf of former shareholders of Yukos began to describe the Russian sovereign the property in order to pay the penalty. The Russian foreign Ministry then summoned the Belgian Ambassador, who was declared “the resolute protest” in connection with arrest of accounts of the Russian Embassy in Belgium and permanent missions of Russia to the EU and NATO in Brussels, a number of other Russian organizations (diplomatic accounts were unfrozen very quickly). The property arrests were perceived as “overtly hostile act”. 31 July 2015 Russia filed a petition for the abolition of exequatur, of hearings on this issue are expected in October or November 2016.
Last fall, the state Duma passed and President Vladimir Putin signed a law under which a Russian court will be able to limit the jurisdictional immunity of those States that give Russia less immunity than Russia. In other words, Moscow has reserved the right to deprive other States of their sovereign immunity of assets in Russian territory in response to the arrests of its assets in the respective foreign jurisdictions.