Russian Court upholds Kafkaesque verdict
Binningen BL, 15 March 2022 – The Russian Court of Cassation has confirmed a lower court’s verdict against two Ameropa entities, Ameropa Holding and Ameropa AG, and two of its directors, upholding a case of malicious prosecution that has been described by independent observers as “Kafkaesque”, “flagrantly unfair”, and a “a classic example of Russian corporate siege and raiding practices”. Ameropa is considering appealing to the European Court of Human Rights.
The proceedings against Ameropa are part of an illegal corporate raid against Togliatti Azot (“ToAz”), a Russian fertilizer company in which Ameropa holds a minority stake. As detailed in a report by researchers from George Mason University, Dmitry Mazepin (a Russian oligarch subject to Western sanctions) and his company Uralchem have manipulated the Russian legal system and their close relationships with Russian government officials to achieve the unlawful takeover of ToAz, applying many of the same methods used against Hermitage Capital/Sergei Magnitsky/Bill Browder and Yukos/Mikhail Khodorkovsky. A core part of this campaign has been to fabricate civil and criminal claims against Ameropa and its directors, with the proceedings marked by gross violations of due process and human rights.
According to another academic report: “[D]uring this almost decade-long legal fight, there have been multiple documented accounts of fabricated evidence, questionable expert reports, bribed witnesses, anonymous testimonies, and so-called “telephone justice” in the form of informal influence and pressure on the judiciary.”
The UK Magistrate Court, in rejecting Russia’s extradition request for one of Ameropa’s co-defendants, summed up the case as follows: “a weak case without the crucial evidential foundation… a charge which grossly inflates the complainant’s loss, a complainant which is corrupt yet powerful, evidence of investigators who appear to be too close to the complainant,… a long history of attacks on the accused… evidence of a lack of independence of the judge.”
Western governments, including from Switzerland, the United States and Germany, have also taken a dim view of the matter, rejecting various requests for Mutual Legal Assistance from the Russian government in relation to the ToAz case.
As part of their harassment of the defendants, Russian authorities obtained Interpol Red Notices against the defendants, including Ameropa’s directors Mr. Zivy and Mr. Ruprecht. But, after evaluating the facts, Interpol revoked the Red Notices stating “there is a predominant political dimension to this case” and concluding that the Russian request “[d]oes not satisfy the requirements of… Interpol’s Constitution”.
The verdict is not enforceable outside of Russia and Ameropa does not expect any material adverse consequences arising from it. However, in its pursuit of justice, Ameropa is considering appealing to the European Court of Human Rights. Ameropa has also sought to initiate a claim under the Swiss-Russian Bilateral Investment Treaty but has been blocked by the Russian government, which has refused to engage in the proceedings. Ameropa’s press release on the original verdict can be found here.
Founded in 1948, Ameropa in Binningen near Basel is a privately held Swiss trading and production company for cereals and fertilizers. For more information please see our website www.ameropa.com.
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