White & Case wins court battle for Russia’s TNK

White & Case has won a crucial court battle enabling its client, Russian oil giant TNK, to defend itself against claims on native soil.

Lawyers had to convince a British Virgin Islands (BVI) court that Russia is not “institutionally corrupt” and is an appropriate jurisdiction to hear the dispute.

The claimants, minority shareholders in TNK subsidiaries Astian Group and Indian Ocean Petroleum Services, allege that TNK operated an illegal transfer pricing scheme that resulted in profits due to the subsidiaries being realised further up the corporate structure.

The shareholders, represented by BVI firm Walker Smiths, sought unsuccessfully for the substantive action to be fought in the BVI, where TNK is registered.

White & Case’s Moscow office will handle the forthcoming Russian litigation for TNK.

The firm’s New York office is currently also acting for TNK in relation to claims by NoreX Petroleum of Canada. NoreX alleges that $160m (£93m) in profits were diverted from TNK to its affiliated group Crown Group, with more than $100m (£58m) of that being passed on to Isle of Man and Bermudan firms as part of so-called “sham agreements”.