Yuganskneftegaz, which now belongs to the state-run crude oil producer Rosneft following a controversial auction, agreed to provide guarantees for a $1.6 billion loan May 25, 2004. The loan was extended by a syndicate of foreign banks.
Yuganskneftegaz filed a suit to invalidate the agreement in March 2005 when it was already part of Rosneft. The company said the agreement was not legally binding because Yukos abused its authority when signing the contract.
Rosneft lawyers said by the time the agreement was concluded, Yukos was already facing substantial back tax claims nearly twice the size of the loan.
The Yukos group, whose founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky is serving an eight-year prison term after being convicted of fraud in May 2005, now faces a total of $16.6 billion in claims from creditors, including Rosneft-owned former production unit Yuganskneftegaz ($4.07 bln), the Federal Tax Service ($11.6 bln), Rosneft ($482 mln) and more than 20 other companies.
But Yukos lawyers said Rosneft has no right to question the guarantee agreement because Rosneft was not the owner of Yuganskneftegaz when the agreement was signed.
On March 17, 2006, Moscow's Arbitration Court ruled in favor of Rosneft, and the Arbitration Court of Appeals in Moscow upheld the decision, which led Yukos lawyers to the Federal Arbitration Court.