Khodorkovsky, ten years on

M.B.KhodorkovskyHere is my latest piece published on the IBA Global Insight newsfeed:

The Russian judicial system has been thrust into the spotlight countless times in recent months by the high level of international media attention surrounding trials involving the Arctic 30, the Bolotnaya Square protesters, Pussy Riot and Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

However, arguably 25 October this year marks one of the most significant junctures in recent Russian legal history: it is ten years to the day since Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested at gunpoint in Siberia after his plane was stormed by special forces officers and he was detained by the Russian authorities.

Ten years behind bars and the former head of the now bankrupt oil company Yukos has undergone a rollercoaster ride of trials and appeals within Russia and further afield. Both he and his former Yukos business partner Platon Lebedev – who was arrested in July 2003 and has been represented by a separate legal team – first went on trial in June 2004 charged with tax evasion and fraud.

Published on 25-10-13. Read on here

BP seeks to bring Russian adventure with TNK to an end

Here is my latest piece published in the IBA Global Insight newsfeed:

When the news came last month that BP was looking to end its Russian tie-up with TNK, few people were surprised.

BP has long been wracked by disputes between its Russian shareholders and this was no clearer than during the Rosneft debacle last year. In January 2011, BP and state-owned Russian energy company Rosneft shocked the world by signing a US$16bn share swap deal to jointly exploit oil and gas reserves in Russia’s Arctic shelf. The deal would have made Rosneft the largest single shareholder in BP, but it was not to be.

Alfa-Access-Renova (AAR), which owns 50 per cent of TNK-BP, claimed that the terms of the share swap deal were in violation of its shareholder agreement, which clearly stipulates that BP must carry out all projects in Russia and the Ukraine through TNK-BP. AAR filed a lawsuit and after retaining Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, went on to obtain an injunction on the deal in London’s High Court in April last year.

Published on 12-07-12. Read on here

Russian elections: Putin again despite the protests

Here is my latest piece published in the IBA Global Insight newsfeed:

Scenes of protests wracked the streets of Moscow in December 2011 following widespread public outcry over alleged voting fraud in Russia’s parliamentary elections.

More protests followed in the run-up to the elections in March this year but Vladimir Putin finally emerged triumphant with an estimated 64 per cent of the vote.

While the West may remain sceptical of Putin’s intentions during his third term as president, a number of Russians believe his tenure will see a continuing focus on boosting the country’s economy, particularly in relation to the oil and gas sector.

Published on 29-03-12. Read on here

Rosneft embraces new western partner after abortive BP deal

Here is my latest piece published in the IBA Global Insight newsfeed:

The news this week that ExxonMobil has signed a deal with Rosneft to explore oil and gas reserves in Russia’s Arctic shelf has ruffled more than a few feathers.

As IBA Global Insight reported earlier this year, after initial excitement, BP and Rosneft’s momentous US$16bn share swap deal quickly fell apart following a dispute with Russian investors in TNK-BP (BP’s existing Russian joint venture).

BP was eventually forced to pull out of the tie-up in May and the fiasco was an embarrassment for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had previously endorsed the deal.

Published on 02-09-11. Read on here

Mining Conflicts are a Great Challenge Facing Humala’s Government

My latest blog for Huffington Post UK:

Last month UK-based company Monterrico Metals agreed to an out-of-court settlement to 33 Peruvian farmers over claims of abuse during protests in Rio Blanco in northern Peru in 2005. As incoming President Ollanta Humala lines up his cabinet, there are still many questions hanging over the exploitation of Amazon territory and the treatment of indigenous communities.

As with many other Latin American countries, Peru is no stranger to protests over mineral exploitation or other energy-related projects. Yet as a country which has some of the most sought after mineral resources in the world, the recent case with Monterrico has exposed the ugly side of foreign investment in Peru. In August 2005, 33 farmers were taking part in a protest over human rights when they were detained and tortured at a copper mine owned by Monterrico in Rio Blanco. Five protesters were shot and two female protesters were sexually abused in the attack. Although the exact amount of compensation has not been disclosed, the settlement marks a significant milestone in accountability and corporate social responsibility for mining companies in the country. Richard Meeran, a partner at UK firm Leigh Day & Company that represented the farmers, said “This constitutes a salutary lesson for multinationals operating in developing countries.”

Published on 08-08-11. Read on here

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