Russia » Economics

Will “Yukos” ever pay the debt?

717 billion 897 million 747 thousand 905 rubles 55 kopeks

 “Yukos” and its subsidiaries owe government lots of money. This fact is undisputable. Until recently, only a small circle of people was aware of the exact amount. As for the rest, they simply had to analyze all the incoming data from the Federal Tax Servcies and do the math themselves.

PRAVDA.Ru happened to possess a copy of an official document, which presents full picture of “Yukos”’s debt as well as the debt of its subsidiaries. It is noteworthy to mention though that the exact data concerning tax claims is given out only to corporations that had already announced their participation in the auction to acquire stocks of “Yuganskneftegas”, “Yukos”’s major working asset.

When asked whether such numbers were present in the Fund, press-secretary of the Russian Federal Property Fund (RFPF) Alexander Komarov refused to comment. He stated that the organization doesn’t provide any comments to press regarding such matters. Nevertheless, RFPF obviously discloses all info to anyone wishing to take part in the auction. In his interview to PRAVDA.Ru, Alexander Komarov has confirmed only the total sum of the money that “Yuganskneftegas” had indebted.

In general, the media along with numerous experts provided correct data ($22-24 billion USD) when calculating total sum of tax claims addressed to the entire “Khodorkovsky Empire.” In reality however, the sum turned out to be a bit more considerable – almost $25,79 billion USD. This is 1,5 times greater than Russia’s defense budget for the upcoming year.

Currently, total sum of tax claims addressed to “Yukos” for 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 equals 578 365 842 587,18 rubles. This also includes taxes for the sum of 273 384 403 198 rubles, fines for late submission of tax reports: 105 691 949 581,58 rubles as well as fines for tax law violations for the sum of 199 289 489, 807,6 rubles.

“Yukos” has been disputing almost every single digit in various courts. However, the company failed to reach success. In particular, the entire system of fines has been greatly criticized for a number of tax related violations. It would be noteworthy to mention that an ordinary fine constitutes 20% of the debt. Russian Federal Property Fund however would double or in some cases even quadruple the fine percentage. According to some sources, tax inspectors were certain that “Yukos” wasn’t paying purposefully. And since the company has already been convicted of the analogues crime, the fine soon rose to 80% of delinquent tax money.

Such rapidly evolving dynamics of fines is fascinating. “Yukos” is just a mere example. For 2000 alone, fines constituted 40%; in 2001, they rose to 80%; in 2002 – nearly 79,8%; in 2003 – 80%. As far as “Yugansk” is concerned, the company has been only in the course of the past couple of years; both times the fines constituted 40%.

As for “Yuganskneftegas”, for 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 tax services made claims on a sum of 112 807 942 532, 52 rubles, including taxes: 60 274 463 961,32 rubles, fines for late submission of tax reports – 32 510 730 430,9 rubles as well as fines for violations of tax laws and regulations for the sum of 20 022 748 140,3 rubles.

“It should be noted,” reads the document, “that since August 2004 ‘Yuganskneftegas’ has almost completely stopped paying its tax bills in accordance with tax declarations. As a result, this led to the emergence of tax arrears on the sum of 15 924 134 953 rubles.” It therefore follows that “Yugansk” owns RFPF over 128,73 billion rubles or more than $4,6 billion USD.

Other smaller pieces of “Yukos” such as “Samaraneftegas” and “Tomskneft” have been checked only for 2002. In comparison to the aforementioned sums, RFPF aks them to pay very inconsiderable sums: a little bit more than 7,12 and 3,6 million rubles respectively.

In their interviews to PRAVDa.Ru, experts could not provide a clear answer as to who will pay the debts of “Yukos”’s subsidiaries after their sale. Logically, noted the experts, potential buyers should be awarded such “privilege.” If this is truly so, then most claims will be settled. “Yukos”’s pieces however appear quite risky for potential buyers. The company’s shareholders will demand financial compensation from new owners through international law-enforcement organizations. That is why a sweet pill for potential investors is of utmost importance from the government’s side.

Artyom Sergeev

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