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U.S. Judge Limits Yukos Probe Efforts

21 January 2005 -- A U.S. federal judge has ruled that Russian oil company Yukos cannot seek information about whether the Gazprom monopoly illegally took part in the sale of Yukos' main oil-producing unit.

U.S. bankruptcy court Judge Letitia Clark yesterday in Houston, Texas, ruled that fact-finding must -- for now -- be limited to issues related to whether her court has jurisdiction in the case.

Yukos lawyers had asked the judge to allow inquiries of banks and other parties so Yukos can proceed with its plans to sue the entities behind the takeover of its Yuganskneftegaz subsidiary, which was controversially auctioned last month by Russian authorities to pay back billions of dollars in back taxes the Russian government says are owed by Yukos.

The unit was eventually obtained by the Russian state-run oil company Rosneft, which is being folded into Gazprom.

The U.S. hearings are due to continue on 16-17 February on whether the Yukos case can continue in U.S. courts.