UPDATE 3: Ukraine says starts to arrest assets to make Gazprom pay
(Rewrites headline, adds details in lede, paragraphs 2, 9–10, 12)
MOSCOW/KIEV, May 30 (PRIME) -- Kiev has started a process of enforced repayment of U.S. $2.6 billion by Russian gas giant Gazprom under an earlier Stockholm court ruling in form of its stakes in pipeline projects Nord Stream and Nord Stream-2, CCO of state energy holding Naftogaz Ukrainy Yury Vitrenko said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
“We have started to arrest assets of Gazprom from shares of Nord Stream 1 and (Nord Stream) 2 in Switzerland. Europe will have a reason to think one more time how secure these bypass pipelines are with shares of their operators being arrested due to reluctance of their owner to follow civilized rules and fulfill rulings by an international arbiter,” Vitrenko said.
Nord Stream operates Russia’s existing Nord Stream gas pipeline and Nord Stream 2 operates the project of construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline.
A source said earlier in the day that court bailiffs visited the office of Nord Stream in Switzerland. “(The bailiffs) have visited the office but have not arrested anything,” the source said, adding that the issue is about assets of both companies Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2.
After that, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko said at a meeting with Naftogaz Ukrainy CEO Andrei Kobolev that Ukraine had started to enforce the payment of Gazprom’s liability under the court’s ruling.
“A process of enforcement of a $2.6 billion payment by Gazprom has become real, encumbrance of the shares and other assets of Gazprom in countries of Europe, in particular in Switzerland, the U.K., the Netherlands, has started today,” Poroshenko said.
Kiev’s actions will not be limited to these three counties and every effort must be made in order to ensure the recovery of the entire sum, Poroshenko added.
The Stockholm arbitration court ruled earlier in 2018 that Gazprom must pay Naftogaz Ukrainy $2.56 billion for non-shipment of gas. Gazprom said that the decision led to an imbalance in relations of the companies and requested termination of gas transit and delivery contracts with Ukraine.
Naftogaz Ukrainy said that it had asked Swiss courts to take measures to enforce the payment of $2.6 billion. “The company confirms a fact of having applied to Swiss courts with a request to enforce the payment of the money, the Swiss authorities have already taken measures concerning assets of Gazprom on the territory of the country.”
A Nord Stream 2 representative told PRIME that the company had received a notification of restrictive measures in the framework of a case against Gazprom on Tuesday. “This (stipulation) does not influence the Nord Stream-2 project.” The person declined to elaborate.
Gazprom issued a statement and confirmed Kiev’s attempts to recover the sum in Switzerland. “Gazprom has received no official notifications in the framework of this procedure so detailed comments can be provided only after a thorough study of the documents when they officially arrive at Gazprom.”
Gazprom said it will protect its rights in correspondence with the law.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the Kremlin has no information on arrest of Gazprom’s stakes in Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2. “No, frankly speaking, we are unaware; this is an arbitration issue so I cannot tell you anything.”
Nord Stream's Swiss office declined to comment on the bailiffs' visit.