Court leaves ex-Yukos unit's damages claim without consideration-1

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MOSCOW, September 15 (RIA Novosti) - The Moscow Arbitration Court refused to consider Friday an $800-million claim for damages filed by Yuganskneftegaz, once the core production unit of Yukos [RTS: YUKO], against its former parent company.

The judges upheld a motion from Eduard Rebgun, the Yukos bankruptcy receiver, who said all tax claims should be considered as part of the bankruptcy case. Yukos, once Russia's biggest oil company, was declared bankrupt on August 1 after three years of litigation with tax authorities.

Yuganskneftegaz, which was sold at an auction in 2004 to help pay its parent company's tax arrears and is now owned by state-controlled Rosneft [RTS, LSE: ROSN], was initially seeking 141 bln rubles ($5.28 bln) in compensation for losses arising from the settlement of tax arrears. But the former production unit later reduced its claim to 21.5 billion rubles ($800 mln), as the court significantly cut claims in back taxes for 1999-2003 in April-May this year.

The court earlier this week also left without consideration another $8.5 bln claim lodged by Yugansk for damages for the same reason.

Yugansk filed its suit in March 2005, claiming more than 304 billion rubles ($11.4 bln) in damages, including 163 bln rubles ($6.1 bln) for losses allegedly sustained as a result of Yukos's use of lower transfer pricing schemes in oil deals in 1999-2003. Later, a court increased the amount to 226 bln rubles ($8.46 bln), but this was left without consideration on Rebgun's request on Tuesday.

Yugansk was seeking the remainder of the sum, 141 bln rubles ($5.28 bln), to compensate for losses arising from the settlement of tax arrears.

Yukos faces a total of $18.2 bln in claims from creditors, including Yugansk ($4.07 bln), the Federal Tax Service ($13.1 bln), Rosneft ($482 mln) and more than 20 other companies.

An inquiry was opened August 8 into alleged fraud during Yukos bankruptcy proceedings. The Prosecutor General's Office said Yukos secured a loan worth over $4.5 bln from Yukos Capital SARL, a Luxembourg-based subsidiary and a major creditor, through affiliated legal entities.

It said ex-Yukos officials masterminded a scheme to sell crude oil through the trading companies Fargoil and Ratibor, both under their control, acting both as fictitious owners and buyers.

Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky is serving an eight-year prison sentence after being convicted for fraud in May 2005.

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