In prior posts (refer here), I have discussed the jurisdictional issues and other questions arising when foreign domiciled companies are sued in securities lawsuits in U.S. courts. But the November 26, 2007 opinion (here) in the Yukos shareholders’ lawsuit raises some unique and uniquely interesting issues. And as discussed further below, other companies are wrestling with other issues arising from the extraterritorial application of U.S. law.
Defendants’ scheme began to unravel in October 2003 when the market learned that Russian authorities had arrested the Company’s largest shareholder and CEO, defendant Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and had charged him with fraud, embezzlement and evading taxes on hundreds of millions of dollars that was owed to the government. At this time, the Russian authorities also announced that they would pursue criminal prosecutions against other senior Yukos officials. Ultimately, Yukos, which has been audited by the Tax Ministry of Russia for its fiscal year 2000 tax returns, will be required to pay approximately $3.3 billion for 2000 alone due to its understatement of its tax liability, including interest and penalties. The Tax Ministry intends to audit Yukos’ books for 2001-2003 based upon the same charges. Yukos could ultimately be expected to pay upwards of $10 billion to the Tax Ministry for defendants’ involvement in the illegal tax evasion scheme. As a result of the revelation of defendants’ wrongdoing, investors have suffered massive damages as the price of Yukos’ securities plummeted.