Between 1996 and 2003 the Yukos Oil Company was one of the biggest and most successful Russian companies and its main owner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, had become an influential voice in Russian political life, calling for democratization, international co-operation and Russian reform. In 2003 he was arrested and the company was forcibly broken up and destroyed on the basis of alleged tax evasion and fraud. Between 2011 and 2014 several court cases were won by the former company’s management and investors against Russia and courts in several countries ruled that the real intent behind the allegations had been political: to obtain the company’s assets for the government and to silence Khodorkovsky. In 2014 the largest arbitration award in history, $50 billion, was won by Yukos’ former owners against Russia. Moreover, the Russian government’s actions against Yukos were condemned by the Council of Europe as manufactured and politically motivated.
Kaj Hobér was personally involved as legal arbitrator and counsel in several of the Yukos cases and will thus provide an original insight into this highly political case of recent Russian economic history. An acclaimed expert on international energy law and investment arbitration involving the former Soviet Union, Professor Hobér will reflect on what can be learned from the Yukos case(s) about Putin’s policy objectives in the energy sector and the legal dimension of energy cooperation with Russia.
Dr. Kaj Hobér is Professor of International Investment and Trade Law at the University of Uppsala, Sweden as well as chairperson of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce Board. He has been practicing commercial and investment arbitration for over 30 years. He has acted as arbitrator in over 200 cases (including chairmanships), and as counsel in approximately the same number. Through his practice, he has been deeply involved in the legal aspects of Eastern European, and particularly Russian, trade and business. He is author and editor of several books on international arbitration as well as numerous articles on international arbitration, Russian, Soviet and East European law and international investment and trade law. He also translated Putin’s dissertation on Russian energy policy for which he received permission from Putin himself in 2005.
This is the second guest lecture in the UPTAKE Guest Lecture Series on Russian and East European Studies organized by the UT Centre for EU-Russia Studies (CEURUS) in the framework of the Horizon2020 Twinning project “Building Research Excellence in Russian and East European Studies at the Universities of Tartu, Uppsala and Kent (UPTAKE)”.