Home News Noga loses Swiss court battle against Russia

Noga loses Swiss court battle against Russia

Published on 21/01/2009

GENEVA - Swiss trading company Noga lost another round in its spectacular legal battle to pursue a CHF 1.18 billion debt claim against Russia, a Swiss supreme court ruling released on Tuesday showed.

In the ruling dated 9 December 2008, the Federal Tribunal upheld an international settlement decision that Noga lost in France nearly two years ago, and rejected the company’s claim that it was not valid in Switzerland.

Noga concluded an oil-for-food deal with the Russian government in the 1990s worth around USD 1.5 billion (EUR 950 million, CHF 2.2 billion) but alleged that Russia never fulfilled its side of the deal.

Since then the company tried to take Russian property in different countries, including a training ship secured at a French port in 2000 and combat jets at an air show in 2001.

Noga even attempted to freeze the Russian embassy’s bank accounts in Paris.

In 2005, the company unsuccessfully tried to have 54 paintings from the Pushkin Museum in Moscow taken while they were being returned from an exhibition at a Swiss museum.

The International Chamber of Commerce’s arbitration body in Paris later overruled one of Noga’s attempts to track Russian assets in Switzerland, but the company challenged a Russian bid to impose it through Swiss courts.

A defence lawyer for the Russian government, Maurice Harari, told the Swiss news agency ATS that the latest supreme court ruling should effectively end the pursuit in Switzerland.

However, the legal battle continues elsewhere.

The Russian government filed a lawsuit against Noga and its French bailiff in France in May 2008 over an attempt to seize state property in a debt dispute, claiming "substantial damage" to Russia’s reputation.

The suit related to the seizure of accounts of Russian state organisations, including the Central Bank and space agency Roskosmos. French authorities later unfroze the accounts.

[AFP / Expatica]