Lerach Coughlin Stoia & Robbins LLP, an American law firm, announced that it filed the first class action suit against Yukos for violations for tax evasion and violation of securities and exchange laws on behalf of minority shareholders.
The press release said that the firm, which specializes in class actions against corporations, filed the suit in a U.S. district court "on behalf of purchasers of the securities of Yukos Oil Company between February 13, 2003 and October 25, 2003."
Yukos is charged with tax evasion (Yukos executives estimate the sum at $8 billion) and violation of American securities and exchange laws. "The complaint alleges that defendants created a complex network of shell companies to evade taxes on the production," the release said, "refining and sale of oil and oil products ... Accordingly, Yukos' tax liability was materially understated and its earnings were materially overstated in violation of GAAP."
It is the first litigation against Yukos in the United States.
Meanwhile, the crisis around Yukos could affect the cost of gasoline and other fuel in the Czech Republic, Mlada Fronta Dnes, a newspaper, reported Wednesday. The newspaper cited Pavel Svarc, the CEO of Unipetrol, which incorporates the main Czech producer of gasoline, Czeska Rafinerska.
According to Mr. Svarc, gasoline prices in the Czech Republic are directly dependent on deliveries from Russia and if Russian oil supplies from Slovakia are reduced, the Czech Republic would have to import oil through the Trieste terminal. "In itself, this is not a problem, but prices will be higher," said Mr. Svarc. According to him, Yukos oil accounts for about 5% of Russian deliveries to the Czech Republic.
Slovakia may face more serious problems if Yukos declares bankruptcy. Czech analysts think that imports of Russian oil may be reduced by half. "We are closely monitoring developments and will inform the government in case of risks," Pavol Rusko, Slovak minister of industry and trade, said Tuesday.