The Hungarian Supreme Court decided on Monday that the one-dollar sale of gas trader Emfesz in 2009 was illegal, but the ruling said that if any foreign court or a court of arbitration in a foreign country reaches a legally binding ruling about the case, then the sale could still be valid.
István Góczi – who was the managing director of Emfesz at the time of the sale – said the Supreme Court’s ruling means that if the Moscow Court of Arbitration decides that Russian RosGas AG purchased the firm legally, it will be binding in Hungary.
According to Góczi, the court in Russia can be expected to reach a decision some time in March.
Gas assets evaporated
In a statement to state news agency MTI former Emfesz owner Mabofi Holdings said that “as a result of the disingenuous one-dollar deal, Emfesz has become a company without assets or a permit to trade gas”.
Before the controversy began, Emfesz was the second-biggest gas trader in Hungary.
With its somewhat conflicting decision the Supreme Court essentially confirmed last November’s ruling by Budapest Appeals Court, which declared that Góczi did not have the authority to conduct the sale and that the company should be restored to its former owner.
Góczi sold the company in April 2009 to Swiss-registered RosGaz for one dollar, using a power of attorney dating from 2004.
Mabofi Holdings – controlled by Ukrainian oligarch Dmitri Firtash – said Góczi had acted without authorisation because the power of attorney was valid only to set up Emfesz.
Góczi was arrested on suspicion of embezzlement after the Hungarian National Bureau of Investigation raided Emfesz offices in late 2009.
News site index.hu has reported that Emfesz accounts contained HUF 30 billion (EUR 96.60 million) in dollars when the sale was made.