The Supreme Court of the Netherlands has overturned a $50 billion award that Russia had been ordered to pay the former majority shareholders of the dismantled oil giant Yukos, sending the case back to a lower appeals court.
"Today the Supreme Court quashed the appeal court's final judgement as well as the court’s preceding judgement," the court said in a statement on November 5.
"The case has been referred to the Amsterdam Court of Appeal for renewed judgement."
The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in 2014 that Moscow used tax claims to seize control of Yukos in 2003 and silence its CEO, tycoon-turned-Kremlin-critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
The Russian state launched “a full assault on Yukos and its beneficial owners in order to bankrupt Yukos and appropriate its assets while, at the same time, removing Mr. Khodorkovsky from the political arena,” the arbitrators said in their 2014 ruling.
Yukos Oil, at the time Russia's largest oil company, went bankrupt in 2006 after the government began demanding billions of dollars in alleged back taxes.
Most of Yukos's assets were absorbed by the state-owned oil producer Rosneft.
Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade in jail before being pardoned by Putin in 2013, now lives in exile in London. He is not a party to the case.
A number of countries have frozen accounts and property belonging to Russian state companies while GML, a holding company belonging to four former Yukos owners, attempted to collect the award.
Despite the Supreme Court's ruling, former Yukos shareholders said in a statement that they remain “confident" they will eventually win their $50 billion case against Russia.
"We will study the Supreme Court ruling but are confident that the Court of Appeal in Amsterdam will dismiss the baseless allegations raised by the Russian Federation, and the arbitral awards will be upheld,” a statement sent to Reuters said.