Multimillion tax arrears of Yukos were hidden from Americans. Conflict of interests of Judge Olga Mikhailova. The website Prigovor.ru reminds its readers of what happened on July 19, 2004.
On this day, on July 19, 2004, it became known that American shareholders in the United States were indignant at Yukos tax machinations. The law firm “Murrey, Frank & Sailer”, representing the interests of American shareholders of Yukos, lodged a complaint against this Russian oil company. Plaintiffs hold, was pointed out in reports, that the company should compensate their damage caused by hiding information about tax arrears to the state budget.
On the eve, legal firms “Lerach Couphlin Stoia & Robbins”, “Schatz & Nobel”, “Scott + Scott”, “Shiffrin & Schiffrin” initiated a collective action against Yukos on behalf of buyers of securities who had bought shares in the period from February 13 to October 25, 2003.
The essence of the claims was the same – tax machinations. According to the plaintiffs, Yukos broke federal laws of the United States on securities, in particular the law of 1934. It was stated in the complaint that respondents had created a complex network of shell companies in order to avoid paying taxes on production, reprocessing and selling of oil products.
Already in a year, in the summer 2005, the United States, without holding back, was sheltering the major shareholder of Yukos Leonid Nevzlin, concurrently serial ordering customer of murders and attempted murders. And in fall of the same year, the U.S. Senate came out in support of the tax criminals from Yukos Khodorkovsky* and Lebedev – in particular, senators Obama, McCain and Biden were working off dirty money and spitting at the Americans who had been cheated by Yukos swindlers.
TIME FOR STRANGE JUDGES
On this day, 19 years ago, on July 19, 2004, in the arbitration proceedings in the case of tax collection from the oil company NK Yukos, their participants were busy with objections.
The prehistory, in a nutshell, is as follows. The decision of the additional accrual of taxes to the tune exceeding 99 billion rubles for 2000 was taken as early as on April 14, 2004. Then, the Tax service handed over to the oil company demands to pay taxes, fines and penalties to the total amount of 99 billion 375 million 538 thousand 234 rubles. Yukos, as usual, didn’t want to pay anything and declared itself a “conscientious taxpayer”. The case made it to arbitration proceedings which “the most transparent” company lost, in the end”.
(See also the article “On this day Yukos was put on notice of tax machinations” and see also the article “On this day, Yukos was dissociating itself from shell-firms”).
The case over collecting from Yukos taxes for 2000 was the first, and, one can say, a test cycle of litigations in the Moscow Arbitration Court. One of the episodes of this series was devoted to considering of counter-claims from Yukos against the Ministry for Taxes and Levies of the Russian Federation. The tax tricksters from Yukos demanded to revoke the decision of collecting from the company 99 billion rubles of the tax arrears. But the case failed to get traction from the very beginning.
They started to consider Yukos claim against the Ministry for Taxes and Levies as early as in the middle of June 2004, yet the case stuck at the start. Yelena Alexandrova, a representative of the Ministry for Taxes and Levies, as participant of the case, filed a motion to recuse the judge. On the eve, Judge Natalya Cheburashkina, who, initially, had received Yukos claim against taxmen, by her decision suspended the recollection of the arrears in accordance with the claim of the Ministry for Taxes and Levies. She received a demand for her recusal.
After the consideration of the recusal, including its motives, and explanations of the judge, the decision was taken to hand over the case to another judge. The tax case fell to Judge Olga Mikhailova. She scheduled proceedings for July 19, 2004. Yet, instead of consideration of the claim, everybody studied a new motion – the judge herself declared of her recusal.
As a reason for her recusal she mentioned “influence in the press” on judges’ community. In the words of Mikhailova, publications in mass media about this process exert “powerful psychological pressure” on judges. Yet, as it turned out, representatives of the Tax Service had prepared its motion on the recusal of the judge with a hint an “conflict of interests”.
SIGNS OF CONFLICT OF INTERESTS
According to the information of the Ministry for Taxes and Levies of the Russian Federation, Mikhailova, during the period from 2001 – 2002, published four articles on tax legislature in the journal “Your Tax Lawyer”, the chief editor of which, at that time, was Sergey Pepelyayev, representing in court Yukos interests. Apart from that, Judge Mikhailova published a book in a series “Library of Tax Lawyer” that also had been edited by Yukos representative Pepelyayev. All these facts, according to the Ministry, bear evidence that Mikhailova is interested in the outcome of the case. In the end of the day, Valentina Kurbankova, a vice president of the Moscow Arbitration Court, sustained the self-recusal of Judge Olga Mikhailova.
“In fact, I edited several works of Mikhailova, but I have no commercial connections with her”, said Sergey Pepelyayev, one of the well-known experts in Russia in the field of Tax legislation, in an interview with the daily newspaper “Vremya Novostey”. “I edited articles of numerous arbitration judges, as well as judges of the Constitutional Court, tax policemen and even employees of the Ministry for Taxes and Levies. As to the self-recusal of Mikhailova, it looks like this: if the court granted her motion, it means that it acknowledged the fact of exerting influence on her, and, consequently, there is a need now to deal with those who exerted that influence”.
AND IN 2001, 98 BILLION WERE STOLEN
On this day, on July 19, 2004, Yukos desperately disputed with the Tax Service about the results of the investigation of “a very conscientious tax payer” for 2001. Having received materials of the Ministry for Taxes and Levies at the beginning of the month, in Yukos they compiled a document - a counter-case with regard to the tax audit report and sent it to the Ministry.
“The report of the field tax audit for 2001 exposed and established wrongdoings. It was proposed to Yukos to pay taxes (with account taken to fines and penalties) to the total amount exceeding 98 billion rubles”, notes the website Prigovor.ru.
(See also the previous article “On this day, 5 homicide cases of Yukos were discussed”. Wetwork man Pichugin stuck in proofs. Four corrupt deputies of the State Duma. Kremlin’s pleader Voloshin. The website Prigovor.ru reminds its readers of what happened on July 18, 2003).
*On May 20, 2022, the Russian Ministry of Justice included M.B. Khodorkovsky in the list of physical persons executing functions of a foreign agent.