Guardian: Berezovsky loses case against Abramovich

Aug 31st, 2012 | By | Category: Journal

Friday, 31st August 2012

The Chelsea football club owner, Roman Abramovich won a high court action against Boris Berezovsky, over a disputed £3bn debt.

Berezovsky, 66, was in the London courtroom and heard the judge, Mrs Justice Gloster, rule that he had lost his claim, which involved allegations of blackmail, breach of trust and breach of contract.

Abramovich, 45, who has denied the accusations, was not in the Rolls building courtroom to hear the final decision in the 10-month hearing.

Berezovsky, the former Kremlin insider turned bitter critic of Vladimir Putin, had claimed that Abramovich cheated him out of more than $5bn (£3.2bn) and “intimidated” him into selling shares in a Russian oil company at a fraction of their value. Abramovich, who remains on good terms with President Putin, said he did not owe Berezovsky anything.

It was the largest private litigation battle in British legal history and Abramovich’s lawyer is said to have earned a pounds 3m bonus.  At pounds 1,500 per hour such high profile legal cases held in London are proving a bonanza for lawyers.  There is perception amongst Russians that English Judges are not bribable contrary to their experience back home and the demise of oligarchs such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

In her judgment, Gloster said the case “fell to be decided almost exclusively on the facts; very few issues of law were involved … The case was one where, in the ultimate analysis, the court had to decide whether to believe Mr Berezovsky or Mr Abramovich.”

Berezovsky, she concluded, was not a credible witness. “On my analysis of the entirety of the evidence, I found Mr Berezovsky an unimpressive, and inherently unreliable, witness, who regarded truth as a transitory, flexible concept, which could be moulded to suit his current purposes.”

“At times the evidence which he gave was deliberately dishonest; sometimes he was clearly making his evidence up as he went along in response to the perceived difficulty in answering the questions in a manner consistent with his case.”

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Tags: Boris Berezovsky, Lawsuit, Oligarch's dispute, Roman Abramovich

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