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Berezovsky vs Abramovich hearings in London entering final phase

January 17, 2012, 12:29 UTC+3

Berezovsky’s lawyer Laurence Rabinowitz on Tuesday will present the arguments of the plaintiff

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LONDON, January 17 (Itar-Tass) — Court hearings on the lawsuit of the former Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky against the Russian owner of the English football club Chelsea Roman Abramovich on Tuesday are entering the final phase.

Berezovsky’s lawyer Laurence Rabinowitz on Tuesday will present the arguments of the plaintiff. He is expected to make the closing remarks for two days.

After that, Judge Elizabeth Gloster will take a break for delivering a judgement on this case. According to commentators, it can take the judge up to six months to deliberate on the verdict.

In late December, Abramovich’s lawyer Jonathan Sumption made the closing statement. Having completed his part at the proceedings Sumption this month took the office of a judge of the UK Supreme Court.

Since 2001, Berezovsky has been living in the UK that granted him asylum. Russian justice accuses Berezovsky of committing various economic crimes. However, the British authorities refused to extradite him to Russia.

Berezovsky sued Abramovich in 2007, and the defendant’s lawyers’ attempts to dismiss the claim were unsuccessful. Hearings in the Berezovsky vs. Abramovich case started in early October, 2011.

Berezovsky accuses Abramovich of violating the trust agreements allegedly concluded between them. According to the plaintiff, the defendant forced him to sell shares of the Sibneft company at prices lower than the market rates. Berezovsky also accuses Abramovich of selling his stake in RUSAL to Oleg Deripaska. According to the plaintiff, this decreased the value of the company shares, which were owned by Berezovsky. The former oligarch demands over 5 billion dollar compensation from the Chelsea owner.

The defendant has denied all the allegations against him. He said that Berezovsky did not own shares of Sibneft or RUSAL, and the sole owner of these stakes was he, Abramovich. The Chelsea owner admits that he has paid Berezovsky a total of about 2.5 billion US dollars. However, he said, it was a fee for the service known is Russia as “krysha” (meaning “roof”) that is, for political patronage and physical protection.

According to the BBC, Jonathan Sumption said at the beginning of the proceedings that Mr Berezovsky was paid millions of pounds by businesses controlled by Mr Abramovich for his services as a “political godfather.” He added: “Mr Berezovsky was a highly controversial figure in Russian politics in the 1990s. Boris Berezovsky was a power broker.” And he said between 1995 and 2002 Mr Berezovsky had received $2bn from businesses controlled by Mr Abramovich. Mr Sumption also said that by the late 1990s Mr Berezovsky’s personal expenses - which he said were on an “exuberant scale” - were being met by Mr Abramovich’s companies. These included funding palaces in France, private aircraft, jewellery for his girlfriend and valuable paintings.

Boris Abramovich Berezovsky (born in Moscow on 23 January 1946) is a Russian businessman, mathematician, member of Russian Academy of Sciences, and a former government official and Deputy in the Duma. He is often described as a Russian oligarch. Although once a supporter of Vladimir Putin, Berezovsky clashed with the new president soon after his election in 2000 and remains a vocal critic. In late 2000, after the Russian Deputy Prosecutor General demanded that Berezovsky appear for questioning, he did not return from abroad and moved to the UK, which granted him political asylum in 2003. In Russia he was later convicted in absentia of economic crimes. Russia has repeatedly failed to obtain the extradition of Berezovsky from Britain, which has become a major point of diplomatic tension between the two countries. Berezovsky made his fortune during Russia’s privatisation of state property. He took ownership of the Sibneft oil company and became the principal shareholder in the country's main television channel, ORT. In 1997 Forbes Magazine estimated Berezovsky's wealth at $3 billion.

Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich (born 24 October 1966) is a Russian businessman and the main owner of the private investment company Millhouse LLC.

In 2003, Abramovich was named Person of the Year by Expert, a Russian business magazine. He shared this title with Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He is known outside Russia as the owner of Chelsea Football Club, an English Premier League football team, and for his wider involvement in European football. Abramovich is currently the ninth richest person in Russia and the 53rd richest person in the world, according to the 2011 Forbes list, with an estimated fortune of $13.4 billion.


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