Russian Biz Can’t Use Sanctions To Force Interim Payment

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Russian Biz Cant Use Sanctions To Force Interim Payment

In a high-stakes legal showdown that has left the financial world in suspense, a London judge has shot down an audacious bid by a Russian subsidiary of a major fertilizer producer. LLC EuroChem North-West-2, embroiled in a bitter €212 million ($225 million) legal dispute with two international banking giants, attempted to leverage the specter of sanctions to demand an interim payment ahead of the trial. High Court Judge Christopher Butcher, however, resolutely dismissed the request, affirming that there exists “no good reason” for such an extraordinary move that, as he put it, would have “little or minimal utility.”

The Perilous Legal Duel Unveiled

Eurochem is locked in a fierce legal battle with France’s Société Générale SA and Dutch lender ING Bank NV. The Russian fertilizer heavyweight initiated the lawsuit in August 2022, alleging that the banks refused to honor a bond payment linked to the construction of a plant near St. Petersburg, Russia. The banks argued that releasing the funds would violate sanctions rules, creating a complex web of legal quandaries.

Russian Biz Can’t Use Sanctions To Force Interim Payment : The High-Stakes Gambit

Eurochem’s counsel, Justin Fenwick KC, raised the stakes at an intense court hearing in October, warning that, even if they triumph at trial, the banks might still invoke European Union sanctions law to avoid payment. He asserted that there’s no tangible proof that Eurochem’s founder, Andrey Melnichenko, or his wife Alexandra, who are both under sanctions, control the company any longer.

Russian Biz Can’t Use Sanctions To Force Interim Payment : A Judge’s Defiant Stand

Judge Butcher delivered a seismic blow to Eurochem’s strategy, asserting that it is “very doubtful” the banks would withhold payment due to EU sanctions law in the event of a loss. Moreover, he underlined that the banks have substantial assets in England that could be seized to ensure compliance.

The Legal Tightrope Walk

The judge also heeded the banks’ warning that an interim payment might inadvertently breach sanctions, potentially leading to criminal penalties. Additionally, the banks raised concerns about their ability to seek reimbursement for their counter-guarantees, suggesting they could end up in financial jeopardy.