Russian Central Bank's French bank account unfrozen

PARIS, March 12 (RIA Novosti) - An account held by the Russian Central Bank (CBR) at France's Natixis bank, which was frozen in January following a suit by Swiss firm Noga, was unfrozen on Wednesday, a lawyer for the CBR said.

"We have obtained the Paris Tribunal's decision to unfreeze the Russian Central Bank's funds totaling 50 million euros placed in the French bank Natixis," the lawyer said.

The French court agreed with the CBR's lawyers that the Bank of Russia is an independent legal entity and has no responsibility for the Russian government's debts.

Some assets of Russian organizations, including accounts held by the CBR and news agency RIA Novosti were frozen over a 49 million euro ($75 million) claim by the Swiss trading firm to secure the repayment of debts under barter oil deals struck with Russia's government in the early 1990s.

Since 1993, Noga has repeatedly applied for the seizure of Russian property abroad, including a sailing vessel and military aircraft that took part in exhibitions and shows, and in 2005 a collection of paintings owned by the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum, to secure the repayment of debts.

The Russian government, the CBR and RIA Novosti filed a suit against Noga and persons who assisted the company in inflicting damages on them through 'ungrounded' and 'illegal' property seizures. Rulings are expected in a month's time.

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