France unfreezes Russian accounts

Russia's Finance Ministry says most Russian accounts frozen in France over a dispute with Geneva-based trading firm, Noga, have been unblocked.

It's expected the remaining assets will also be released soon, and that Russia will file a compensation claim against Noga.

“At the present moment most of the resources seized have been released. It’s expected that the remaining assets will soon be unfrozen. Noga will not be able to retain any of the seized resources. The Russian government has already protested the seizures by Noga through diplomatic channels. The Russian Government, the Bank of Russia and news agency RIA Novosti will soon file a compensation claim against Noga,” says the Finanace Ministry's statement.

On January 2, the accounts of several Russian organisations were frozen in the French branch of Russia's VTB bank.

It followed Noga's claims the Russian government owes it millions of euros for goods received as part of an oil for food programme.

The programme was started in the early nineties and then called off by Russia, leading to Noga's demands for compensation.

Russia claimed the seizure of accounts in France was illegal, as NOGA did not seek prior court permission.