( RIA Novosti ) - Certain assets owned by the Russian government have been frozen in France over a claim by the Swiss trading firm Noga, the Paris bailiff service said on Monday.
Since 1993, the Swiss firm has repeatedly applied for the seizure of Russian property abroad, including Russian Central Bank accounts in France and a sailing ship and warplanes brought into the country for shows, to secure the repayment of debts under barter oil deals struck with Russia's government in the early 1990s.
A document dated January 2 says that seizure applies to assets including accounts of government-controlled news agency RIA Novosti. Under the document, the Swiss trading firm estimated the Russian government's debt to it at 49 million euros ($73 million).Noga earlier claimed the Russian government owed an estimated 1.185 billion Swiss francs (about $950 million) under food-for-oil contracts it had unilaterally terminated shortly after signing them in 1991 and 1992. The contracts' total value was said to be $1.4 billion.
About a year ago it was reported that a U.S. businessman of Russian origin, Alexander Kogan, had purchased part of Russia's debt to Noga. Soon after that, Noga chief Nessim Gaon said he hoped to resolve the debt dispute with the Russian authorities amicably.