Allen v. Russian Federation, Civil Action No. 05-2077 (CKK).

Decision Date26 November 2007
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 05-2077 (CKK).
Citation522 F.Supp.2d 167
PartiesRichard ALLEN, et al., Plaintiffs, v. RUSSIAN FEDERATION, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Columbia

Oliver Thomas Johnson, Jr., Marney L. Cheek, Covington & Burling, Washington, DC, for Plaintiffs.

Jay Louis Alexander, Ryan E. Bull, Baker Botts LLP, William M. Sullivan, Jr., Winston & Strawn LLP, Adam P. Strochak, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, Washington, DC, Michael Goldberg, Baker Botts L.L.P., Houston, TX, Gregory C. Vamos, W. Gordon Dobie, Winston & Strawn LLP, Chicago, IL, Gregory S. Coleman, Yetter & Warden, LLP, Austin, TX, Richard W. Slack, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP, New York, NY, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, District Judge.

Presently before the Court is an action brought by a group of investors who own or used to own an interest in a Russian company called Yukos. The investors claim that the Russian Federation, acting in combination with senior Russian government officials and several Russian energy companies (and several executives of those companies), expropriated Yukos beginning in 2003. The Defendants allegedly levied illegal and confiscatory taxes on Yukos, forced a sham sale of Yukos's most important asset, seized a majority of Yukos shares, intimidated and harassed Yukos executives, and used bankruptcy proceedings to paralyze Yukos's non-Russian-based management team. These and other allegations contained throughout Plaintiffs' 116-page, 424-paragraph Complaint tell a troubling story if proven true.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, this Court is one of limited jurisdiction. Defendants have brought four Motions to Dismiss arguing, inter alia, that this Court lacks jurisdiction to hear Plaintiffs' claims. The Motions decry Plaintiffs' decision to file a Complaint in this Court when the case involves the conduct of the Russian government, senior Russian government officials, Russian companies, and Russian citizens. After a thorough and dedicated review of the Parties' lengthy submissions and the exhibits attached thereto, the record as a whole, applicable case law and statutory authority, the Court finds that it cannot reach the merits of Plaintiffs' claims based on the doctrines of sovereign immunity and personal jurisdiction. Accordingly, the Court shall GRANT Defendants' Motions to Dismiss for the reasons that follow.

I. BACKGROUND

The scope of the Parties' submissions to the Court necessitates a thorough overview of the case.1 The Court shall first provide an overview of the Parties, followed by a brief history of OAO NK Yukos Oil Company ("Yukos"), the company that is alleged to have been expropriated by Defendants. The Court shall then examine the specific allegations made against each of the Defendants, who shall be divided into three "Defendant Groups" based on their factual and legal positions in the case.

A. Parties

The 43 Plaintiffs bringing this action are holders or former holders of Yukos American Depository Receipts ("ADRs") purchased on the over-the-counter ("OTC") market in the United States or the London Stock Exchange (collectively, "Plaintiffs").2 Am. Compl. ¶¶ 12-59. Plaintiffs are all United States citizens, with three exceptions.3

Defendants fall into three "Defendant Groups." The first Defendant Group consists of the Russian Federation (or "Russia") and OAO Rosneftegaz ("Rosneftegaz"). Plaintiffs concede that Russia is a "foreign state" within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1330 (incorporating the definition of "foreign state" included in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1603(a)). See Am. Compl. ¶ 60. Rosneftegaz is a wholly-owned direct subsidiary of the Russian Federation. Id. ¶ 74.

The second Defendant Group consists of five senior Russian government officials sued in their individual capacities (collectively, "Government Defendants"). Id. ¶¶ 78-83. First, Viktor B. Khristenko ("Minister Khristenko") is the Minister of Industry and Energy of the Russian Federation, a position he had held since March 2004. Id. ¶ 80. Minister Khristenko also served as First Deputy Prime Minister from May 2000 to March 2004. Id. He is also a Member of the Board of Directors of OAO Gazprom ("Gazprom"), a Defendant company described as part of the third Defendant Group below. Id. Second, Alexei Kudrin ("Minister Kudrin") is the Minister of Finance of the Russian Federation. Id. ¶ 78. He is also a former director of Gazprom. Id. Third, Dmitry A. Medvedev ("Minister Medvedev") is the First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation and was the Head of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation from October 2003 to November 2005. Id. ¶ 75. He is also Gazprom's Chairman of the Board. Id. Fourth, Igor Sechin ("Minister Sechin") is the Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Russia. Id. ¶ 82. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of OAO Rosneft Oil Company ("Rosneft"), a Defendant company described as part of the third Defendant Group below. Id. In February 2006, Minister Sechin was also appointed to the Board of Directors of Rosneftegaz. Id. Fifth, Igor K. Yusufov ("Minister Yusufov") is a Special Representative of the President on International Energy Cooperation, a position he has held since July 2004. Id. ¶ 79. Minister Yusufov also previously served as Minister of Industry and Energy of the Russian Federation at times relevant to the instant Complaint. Id. He also is a Member of the Board of Directors of Gazprom, and previously served as Chairman of the Board at Rosneft. Id.

The third and final Defendant Group consists of five members, including two companies that are indirectly owned by the Russian Federation and three executives of those companies (collectively, "Non-Government Defendants"). First, Gazprom (referenced above in relation to several of the Government Defendants) is a publicly traded joint stock company organized under the laws of the Russian Federation with its principal place of business in Moscow. Id. ¶ 61. The Russian Federation directly owns 38.373 percent of Gazprom's shares through its Federal Agency for Management of Federal Property, 10.74 percent of Gazprom's shares through Rosneftegaz, and .889 percent through a non-party company (totaling 100%). Id. Gazprom produces about 90 percent of Russian gas and is responsible for eight percent of Russia's GDP. Id. ¶ 63. Gazprom is also a direct competitor of Yukos. Id. Second, Rosneft (referenced above in relation to several of the Government Defendants) is an oil and gas producing company. Id. ¶ 70. One share of Rosneft's stock is held by the Russian Federal Agency for Management of Federal Property, and the remainder is held by Rosneftegaz. Id. ¶ 70. Third, Alexei B. Miller ("Miller") is the Chairman of the Management Committee of Gazprom, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom, and has previously served as Deputy Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation. Id. ¶ 76. Fourth, Sergey Bogdanchikov ("Bogdanchikov") is the President of both Rosneft and Rosneftegaz and is a member of each company's Board of Directors. Id. ¶ 81. Bogdanchikov was appointed as Rosneft's President and to the Rosneftegaz Board of Directors by the Russian Federation. Id. Fifth, Nikolai Borisenko ("Borisenko") is First Vice President of Rosneft and serves on the Board of Directors of Rosneftegaz. Id. ¶ 83.

B. Overview of Yukos

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the Russian Federation's oil and gas industry consisted of hundreds of separate state-owned entities that survived through state support. Id. ¶ 97. In 1993, the Russian Federation sought to restructure the nation's oil-and-gas sector, primarily through privatization. Id. ¶ 98. As part of that effort, the Russian government founded Yukos as a separate legal entity on April 15, 1993, and consolidated certain state-owned producing, refining, and distribution entities into its structure. Id. Yukos became a very successful company, in part by implementing policies designed to attract foreign investment, id. ¶¶ 100-02, and also by implementing various other internal reforms. Id. ¶ 102. By 2003, Yukos's combined production of natural gas and oil rivaled both ChevronTexaco and Total, and the company began to compete with the Russian company Gazprom. Id. ¶ 103.

Yukos sought to expand its operations and become an energy supplier to the United States, id. ¶ 105, completing its first of eight crude oil shipments from Russia to the United States on July 3, 2002. Id. ¶ 105. Yukos announced that the initial shipment "signaled [the] Company's intention to supply the U.S. market," 105, and later announced that the eight shipments were part of its plans to create "a stable source of non-OPEC crude oil for the U.S." Id. Yukos also had plans to increase its production of oil to the United States by constructing a pipeline that would link Yukos production to an Adriatic Sea terminal. Id. ¶ 107. In. 2003, Yukos executives met with United States oil companies to discuss their potential acquisition of large stakes in Yukos. Id. ¶ 108. ExxonMobil apparently considered purchasing a large stake in Yukos following a potential merger with OAO Sibneft, a Russian oil company. Id. ¶¶ 91, 109. According to Plaintiffs, the Sibneft merger did not occur because of Defendants' conduct detailed below. Id. ¶ 92.

By October 2003, Yukos's market capitalization was estimated to exceed $30 billion and it was outperforming its Russian competitors, including Gazprom and Rosneft. Id. ¶ 110. Yukos also was paying significant dividends to its shareholders at this time, including its ADR holders. Id. ¶ 111. Yukos's biggest asset, Yugansknoftegaz ("YNG"), had grown to account for more than one percent of the world's annual oil production. Id. ¶ 90. Yukos's success provides the background to what Plaintiffs allege...

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