Fallen oil giant sues Russia for 98 bln dollars

STRASBOURG: Fallen oil giant Yukos is suing the Russian government for a record 98 billion dollars in the European Court of Human Rights, the court said Friday.

Judges will hear the case on November 19, it said in a statement.

Yukos claims Russian tax authorities engineered the company's bankruptcy by handing out disproportionately high fines for financial irregularities.

In its application, it said there was a "lack of proper legal basis" for doing so as well as a "selective and arbitrary prosecution" of its business.

Russian judges found the company guilty of tax fraud on several occasions between 2000 and 2003, with Yukos handing over some 13 billion euros in unpaid taxes and six billion in penalty charges.

A former state operator, Yukos was privatised in the mid 1990s. It declared bankruptcy in 2006 before being wound up in 2007.

Its founding chief executive, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was convicted and sentenced to eight years in jail in 2005 for major fraud and tax evasion.

He has been on trial again before a Moscow court since March 3 and faces more than 20 years in prison over embezzlement allegations.

Supporters of Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, have condemned the trial as politically motivated and aimed at keeping the 45-year-old critic of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin out of the political scene indefinitely.