Former Ukraine PM sues gas company in US court

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[JURIST] Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [personal website; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday filed a corruption lawsuit in a US federal court against a natural gas trading company. In the suit against Swiss-based RosUkrEnergo [corporate website, in Russian], Tymoshenko seeks to reverse [AP report] a decision [text, PDF, in Russian] by the Stockholm Arbitration Court [official website] that forced Naftogaz [corporate website], a Ukrainian state energy company, to return 12.1 billion cubic meters of cubic gas [WSJ report] to RosUkrEnergo. The class action suit, which names more than 100 other individuals and companies as parties, was filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) [materials] and the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) [text], which grants US courts original jurisdiction over civil actions alleging violation of the law of nations.

Tymoshenko’s government was dissolved last March after she narrowly lost the presidential election to Viktor Yanukovych [official website, in Ukrainian]. The Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) [official website, in Ukrainian] combined two separate criminal cases [press release, in Ukrainian; JURIST report] and concluded a pre-trial investigation of Tymoshenko in February. The combined cases against Tymoshenko include charges initiated in December for allegedly misappropriating state funds during her time as prime minister from 2007-2010 and new charges in January alleging that she abused her authority and exceeded her official duties [JURIST reports]. Last May, prosecutors reopened a separate criminal investigation [JURIST report] into allegations that Tymoshenko attempted to bribe Supreme Court judges. The probe was initiated in May 2004 and then suspended [JURIST report] in June 2005. Last February, Tymoshenko withdrew a lawsuit [JURIST reports] filed in the Supreme Administrative Court of Ukraine claiming that the country’s presidential election was corrupt. Tymoshenko had alleged that widespread voter fraud allowed Yanukovych to win the election.

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