Noga is on the offensive against Kremlin
The deposits of the Central Bank were frozen in France in response to a suit by the Swiss Noga Co. that has long-standing financial complaints against Russia. The total sum of the funds that could be frozen, according to the statement issued yesterday by the Finance Ministry, could come to €50 million. Moreover it became known that at the suit of Noga assets of state-run news agency RIA Novosti in the value of €79 000 in Paris branch office of VTB-Bank (VTB-Bank Europe) were arrested. Accounts of some other state structures in Paris office of VTB were also arrested. Among them there are the Ministry of Finance, the state arms trading agency Rosoboronexport, the Russian Space Agency and the nuclear energy agency Rosatom. The accounts were frozen according to the decision of the Stockholm international commercial court of arbitration in response to the suit of Noga Co. dated February the 1st, 1997.
The Russian side has not yet confirmed officially this informational.
Noga lawyer Antoine Korkmaz told Ogonek magazine about the arrest of accounts of Central Bank structures in Paris in an investment bank, being a part of the Credit Agricole group.
According to Korkmaz, the resolution on the arrest of accounts of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation was sent to the bank on January the 2nd; and in two days Noga received a confirmation that the accounts had been frozen. According to Korkmaz Russia hasn’t still refunded debts to Noga. Under the decision of two European courts in Stockholm and Paris the government of Russia must pay off the firm $110 mln.
‘We confirm the arrest of accounts on which about €50 mln are allocated. Although this money are registered on the Central Bank, we consider that they are intended for the government of the Russian Federation’, said Korkmaz.
Swiss Noga has financial complaints against Russia because of contracts signed in 1991. Conditions seemed to be quite moot. ‘I’m not a lawyer, but when I read the contract for the first time, my hair stood on end, so careless it has been made. I was under the impression that lawyers had worked on behalf of the opposite party’, told Alexander Shokhin, head of the Russian Union of Entrepreneurs and Industrialists, to Ogonek magazine earlier.
According to the contract with the government of the USSR and RSFSR, Noga gave to Russia food and credits at the cost of more than a billion dollars. Russia paid off with oil and guaranteed the compliance with the contract with its property. Noga has been in court against Russia since 1993. Russia ripped up a contract; and Noga demanded for $300 billion penalty.
In 1994 the Swiss firm won a positive decision in the Stockholm international commercial court of arbitration. In 1997 the Swedish court decided that Noga could seek after the compensation with the help of arrests of Russian state property.
In 2000-2001 Noga tried to arrest accounts of Russian special diplomatic services, and some corporations, such as Rosneft and Slavneft, for example, but in vain. There were other attempts. The Swiss firm also tried to arrest Russian uranium allocated in the USA, a sailer Sedov during the international regatta Brest-2000, supermodern plains Su-30MK and MIG-AT at Le Bourget airshow and the bail paid to dismiss Pavel Borodin from a Swiss prison. The last scandal burst out when Noga tried to arrest the collection of French paintings belonging to the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts exposed in Switzerland.
The Swiss firm intends to persecute Russia until it receives all the money. ‘Pay me my money; and I’ll leave you alone’, said once the owner of Noga Nessim Gaon. ‘Let Russia returns me my money. I’m not to arrest anything; I just want to get my money back’.
Russia's Finance Ministry said it would appeal the seizure of Russian organizations' assets in France.
"The Russian side intends to appeal the court order on the freezing of banking accounts of Russian organizations and demand that the Noga company compensate for damage inflicted as a result of the illegal seizure of Russian assets," cites RIA Novosti.