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Ex-Ukraine Prime Minister Tymoshenko Sues RosUkrEnergo, Firtash

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko
Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's former prime minister. Photographer: Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr/Bloomberg

Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, in a U.S. racketeering lawsuit, accused gas trader RosUkrEnergo AG and Ukrainian businessman Dmitry Firtash of conspiring to manipulate an arbitration court ruling that she claims robbed the country’s natural gas supplies.

A Stockholm Arbitration Court ruling last year that Ukraine’s state run energy company NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy owed RosUkrEnergo 12.1 billion cubic meters of gas deprived the Ukrainian people of fuel that the government had already paid for and allowed Firtash, an owner of the gas trader, to reap billions when the gas was resold on the open market, according to the complaint filed yesterday in federal court in New York.

“The Stockholm arbitration ruling in favor of Firtash’s company has been widely perceived as a means of generating huge sums of cash with which Firtash and his associates could continue to illegally fund the pervasive system of corruption that encompasses every level of government, while at the same time suppressing political dissent through intimidation, racketeering and other violations of fundamental human and political rights,” according to the complaint.

The case seeks to represent all Ukrainian people in a class action and was filed under U.S. racketeering law and the Alien Torts Statute, a law that allows foreigners seeking damages for violations of international human rights laws to sue in U.S. courts. The complaint seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

Accord With Russia

Tymoshenko, who lost a presidential election to Viktor Yanukovych last year, signed an accord with Russia in January 2009 that eliminated RosUkrEnergo from the market. RosUkrEnergo claimed Tymoshenko had effectively confiscated the natural gas and appealed to the Stockholm Arbitration Tribunal.

The tribunal ruled on June 8 that Ukraine’s Naftogaz should restore 12.1 billion cubic meters of gas, including penalties, to RosUkrEnergo by Sept. 1, 2010. Tymoshenko disputes the claim.

Ukraine’s prosecutors this month opened a criminal case against Tymoshenko, accusing her of abuse of power related to natural-gas contracts her government signed with Russia in 2009.

No one answered a phone call to RosUkrEnergo after regular business hours yesterday. Representatives of Group DF, where Firtash is executive chairman, didn’t respond to an e-mail sent after regular business hours yesterday.

The case is Tymoshenko v. Firtash, 11-02794, U.S. District Court, New York (Manhattan).

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