Roman Abramovich Wins The Biggest Private Court Case In History at $6.5 Billion

:::The Chelsea FC owner, one of the richest and
most private men in the world, was accused of
black-mailing Boris Berezovsky into selling his
interests in the oil company and aluminium
conglomerate they founded together at a knock-
down price.
Mr Abramovich in turn, accused Mr Berezovsky
of extorting money from him for political
influence and claimed he had paid him $1.3bn to
buy his freedom when Mr Berezovsky fell out of
favour with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
In a year-long case that became highly personal,
one of Mr Abramovich’s associates even accused
Mr Berezovsky of sending a threatening text
message to a potential witness, signed “Dr Evil”,
the pantomime villain from the James Bond
spoof films, Austin Powers. The message was
never produced.
Mr Abramovich’s lawyers also accused Mr
Berezovsky of “truly prodigious powers of self-
deception” and giving evidence coloured by his
“vanity and his self-obsession.”
They claimed that Mr Berezovksy was an “angry
and embittered man” of “remarkable vanity and
self-importance” which was “aggravated by a
highly personal resentment of Mr Abramovich.”
“Large parts of his evidence can only be
described as mendacious and dishonest,” they
said in submissions to the court.
“He believes that Mr Abramovich has supplanted
him in a position which is rightfully his and that
he has acquired a sort of political influence
under President Putin which he once enjoyed
under a very different regime of Boris Yeltsin.”
Mr Berezovsky was once a “classic power
broker” and one of the most influential oligarchs
in Russia but the relationship was founded on
krysha - political protection – and “the activities
of a krysha or protector are inherently corrupt,”
Jonathan Sumption QC, for Mr Abramovich, said
in a written statement.
Mr Berezovsky "thought he had personally
created Mr Abramovich out of nothing and put
him in a position where he had only to sit there
for vast sums of money to flow into his lap,” he
Laurence Rabinowitz QC, for Mr Berezovsky, had
told the court that the two men had worked
together during the Russian privatisation sales in
the mid-1990s that followed the fall of
communism to acquire an asset that would
make them “wealthy beyond the wildest dreams
of most people.”
In the process they “became and remained good
friends” he said, but they fell out when Mr
Berezovsky, who had adopted a high political
profile in Russia through his control of a
television station called ORT, fell foul of the
Kremlin and was forced to leave the country and
seek asylum in Britain.
The television channel had run a number of
stories criticising Mr Putin for the failure to
rescue 118 Russian sailors from the sunken
nuclear submarine, the Kursk.
That, he said left Mr Abramovich in a position
where he was “in effect required to make a
choice - to remain loyal to Mr Berezovsky, his
friend and mentor and the person to whom he
owed his newly acquired great fortune, or
instead, as we submit, to betray Mr Berezovsky
and to seek to profit from his difficulties.”
“It is our case that Mr Abramovich at that point
demonstrated that he was a man to whom
wealth and influence mattered more than
friendship and loyalty and this has led him,
finally, to go so far as to even deny that he and
Mr Berezovsky were actually ever friends,” he
The case rested on a number of key meetings at
the end of 2000 in which the two men and a third
partner, Badri Patarkatsishvili, a Georgian
businessman who died at his Surrey mansion
three years ago from a heart attack, discussed
transferring their assets to the West.
Security men working for Mr Patarkatsishvili
secretly recorded the first meeting at Le Bourget
airport near Paris and Mr Berezovsky later
bought the tape for $50m.
At the second meeting, at Mr Berezovsky’s
chateau near Cap D’Antibes in France,
Berezovsky claimed that Mr Abramovich told
him the Kremlin would remove his TV station
from him if he did not sell it and prevent the
release from jail of a close friend of Mr
Mr Abramovich claimed there was no such
meeting and the pair actually met at the French
ski resort of Megeve a few weeks later and
agreed to a $1.3bn pay-off.
In a last snub to Mr Berezovsky, Mr Abramovich
allegedly sold his 25 per cent share of the
company Rusal, the Aluminium conglomerate,
for £1bn, to Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch with ties
to both George Osborne, the shadow chancellor
and Peter Mandelson, the former Labour spin
The sale meant Mr Deripaska owned 75 per cent
of the company and Mr Berezovsky and his
partner were forced to accept just £289m for the
remaining 25 per cent.

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