Taxation and Expropriation—The Destruction of the Yukos Oil Empire
This article explores the background to, and significance of, the Russian renationalization of the Yukos energy conglomerate through a tax assessment followed by an asset auction, then a bankruptcy proceeding. In a nutshell, the rise and fall of Yukos illuminates four narratives about the modern world economy. First, it exposes the challenges – some might say insuperable barriers – to creation of a liberal society on Russian soil. Second, it shows the deep problems with top-down law reform in societies undergoing rapid and wrenching political, economic and social change. Third, it demonstrates how renationalization works in a particularly high-stakes context. Finally, it reveals the capabilities and limits of international dispute settlement through courts, arbitration, and diplomacy when confronting profound conflicts between private rights and fiercely guarded national interests.