Battle between Russian mining oligarchs opens in UK capital « Mining Blog

Battle between Russian mining oligarchs opens in UK capital

6. October 2011,

Earlier this week (3 October 2011), London’s High Court saw commencement of what the Independent newspaper dubbed “Britain’s legal battle of the year”.

The case “hinges on a web of labyrinthine deals and promises made following the collapse of communism and the privatisation of former Soviet state assets in the 1990s” [The Independent 2 October 2011].

In brief, 65-year old Boris Berezovsky (“once arguably the most powerful of Russian oligarchs” is accusing Roman Abramovich of having intimidated him into selling his assets in RUSAL and Gazprom at below-market prices, after he (Boris) was granted asylum in Britain in 2000.

Berezovsky had fled Russia following an explosion which killed 118 crew members of the nuclear submarine, Kursk, and for which he was held partly responsible, through negligence: the oligarch claimed that serious threats were being made against his life by president Putin and other officials.

The case is being held in London because of a March 2000 meeting there, where where – according to Berezovsky – Abramovich agreed to place his stake in UC RUSAL in a trust governed by English law. Abramovich is then alleged to have “breached” this agreement by selling the shares covertly, then walking off with a tidy stake in what was soon to become the world’s largest integrated aluminium producer.

For his own part, Abramovich counter-claims that he himself had to pay “large sums” to Berezovsky for his own “protection”.

Another oligarch, RUSAL’s Oleg Deripaska, is still trying to take control of Russia’s biggest dedicated mining company, Norilsk. See:

Thus, evidence to be heard in London’s High Court might provide a little more understanding of the violent power conflicts which arose out of the fateful decision to privatise the country’s mineral resources, shortly following the collapse of the Soviet Union. See:

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