RusChemAlliance (RCA), a joint venture co-owned by Gazprom, the Russian state-owned gas company, has taken legal action against several major German banks over a contract that was not fulfilled due to sanctions. According to arbitration court files cited by the Interfax news agency, a claim for the ruble equivalent of $244.5 million has been filed against Deutsche Bank AG, while another claim for the equivalent of $96 million has been filed against Commerzbank AG.
The dispute stems from a contract signed by RCA, which is 50% owned by RusGazDobycha, a gas production firm, with a consortium consisting of Linde and Renaissance Heavy Industries. The contract, signed in July 2021, was for the construction of a gas processing plant in the Leningrad Region. As part of the agreement, RCA made an advance payment to Linde. However, due to EU sanctions, the German firm suspended the work in June 2022.
RCA claims that the guarantor banks refused to fulfill their obligations, citing the sanctions as the reason. However, RCA argues that the work under the contract does not fall within the scope of the EU sanctions. Earlier this year, RCA filed a claim against Linde for approximately €1 billion. As an interim measure, the St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region Arbitration Court ordered the seizure of Linde’s assets in Russia.
The legal action taken by RCA reflects the ongoing tensions between Russia and the West, particularly in light of the sanctions imposed on Russia over its actions in Ukraine. The dispute highlights the challenges faced by companies and financial institutions operating in countries subject to sanctions, as they navigate complex legal and contractual issues.
Sanctions have become a common tool used by countries to exert political and economic pressure on adversaries. However, they often have unintended consequences, impacting not only the targeted companies or individuals but also businesses and institutions in other countries. The case of RCA and the German banks exemplifies the complex web of relationships and interests that can be affected by sanctions.
In the current geopolitical landscape, where economic conflicts and trade disputes are commonplace, legal disputes over sanctions violations are likely to become more frequent. Companies and banks operating internationally will need to carefully navigate the legal complexities and risks associated with sanctions, ensuring compliance with relevant laws and contractual obligations.
As the legal battle between RCA and the German banks unfolds, it will be interesting to see how the courts interpret the scope of the EU sanctions and whether the claims made by RCA hold merit. The outcome of this case could have implications for future disputes involving sanctions and contractual obligations, setting a precedent for how such conflicts are resolved.
In the meantime, RCA’s legal action serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by companies operating in politically volatile regions and the importance of understanding the potential risks and legal implications of sanctions. As international tensions continue to shape the global business landscape, companies must carefully assess the political and legal environment in which they operate and take proactive measures to mitigate potential risks.