AMSTERDAM, June 25 (Reuters) - A Dutch court on Wednesday dismissed a 660 million-euro ($899.81 million) claim for bribery and fraud brought against International Mineral Resources (IMR) by Russian fertiliser maker EuroChem, IMR said.
EuroChem, Russia’s third-largest fertiliser maker owned by Russian tycoon Andrei Melnichenko, accused the South African-based mining services company Shaft Sinkers of covering up deficiencies in its work.
The Dutch-based investment company IMR has a 48 percent minority stake in Shaft Sinkers
The Dutch court said IMR, owned by a trio of tycoons from ex-Soviet states, did not have operational control over Shaft Seekers and could not be held liable for any alleged failings.
EuroChem had engaged Shaft Sinkers to dig a mineshaft that later flooded, delaying a four billion euro potash project.
EuroChem said Shaft Sinkers had kept from it an independent report saying the sealant they were using would not keep the mine water-free and bribed EuroChem employee to keep the company from learning about problems with the project.
Shaft Sinkers rejects EuroChem’s claims about its work.
EuroChem has arbitration cases pending against Shaft Sinkers in France and Switzerland. It filed a separate case against the company’s Dutch-domiciled parent, arguing IMR had operational control over Shaft Sinkers and was liable for any failings.
IMR is wholly owned by the Alexander Machkevitch, Patokh Chodiev and Alijan Ibragimov, founders of the Kazakh mining company Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation. ENRC delisted from the London Stock Exchange after the founding trio bought out its minority shareholders.
“We have always maintained that all the allegations by EuroChem were completely without foundation,” an IMR spokesperson said.
“This has today been reinforced by the court’s decision, which cleared us on all counts, with all allegations shown to be baseless. We respect the Dutch court’s decision and now look forward to focussing on our core business operations.”
A spokesman for EuroChem was not immediately available for comment. ($1 = 0.7335 Euros) (Reporting By Thomas Escritt and Megan Davies; Editing by Tom Heneghan)