MOSCOW (AFP) — Russia will appeal against an "illegal" French court order freezing the bank accounts in France of several Russian organisations, the finance ministry said here on Monday.
"The Russian side intends to protest the court order on the freezing of bank accounts of Russian organisations ... The Russian Foreign Ministry has already sent a note to the French authorities," the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said the freeze was an "illegal seizure of Russian assets."
The accounts were blocked after a request for compensation from Swiss company Noga as part of a long-running dispute over payments allegedly owed to the company by the Russian government, officials said.
Citing a French bailiff's order, RIA Novosti news agency said the accounts included those of several Russian state companies including arms monopoly Rosoboronexport, as well as of government ministries.
"French court officials in Paris blocked the bank accounts of Russian organisations in several French banks on January 2," the finance ministry said, adding that some of the accounts belonged to Russia's Central Bank.
"Lawyers for the Russian side say that the freezing of the Central Bank accounts constitutes a direct infringement of Russian banking legislation," the ministry continued.
A spokesman for state-controlled Vneshtorgbank in Moscow told AFP that several accounts handled by a subsidiary of the bank in France had been frozen but declined to say who the clients affected were.
Noga concluded an oil-for-food deal with the Russian government in the 1990s worth around 1.5 billion dollars (1.3 billion euros). The Swiss company alleges Russia never fulfilled its side of the deal.
Noga has since tried to reclaim the sum by seizing Russian assets abroad.
French authorities briefly seized a Russian sailing ship moored at a French port in 2000 in a bid to reclaim the money and Noga lawyers also tried to lay claim to two Russian jets at an air show outside Paris in 2001.
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