Berezovsky filed a complaint against Abramovich in June 2007. Yesterday the High Court in London issued the first verdict: it will consider claims on the merits.
The lawsuit has three episodes: ORT, Sibneft and Rusal. Only the latter two claims concern Abramovich - for $ 3.6 billion in total. Berezovsky claims that in 1995, Abramovich, Berezovsky and his partner - the late Badri Patarkatsishvili agreed "verbally" that Sibneft was to be divided between them: 50% - to Abramovich, 25% - to the partners. Until then, Abramovich managed all the documents of the companies (and formally owned them). In 2000 Berezovsky was in disgrace (and eventually was forced to exile); along with Mr. Patarkatsishvili he agreed to sell his stake in Sibneft for $ 1.3 billion under certain pressure of Mr Abramovich, the lawsuit states. Even though Abramovich sold his own 70% of Sibneft to Gazprom for $ 13 billion in 2005, Berezovsky claims that he owed a quarter of that percentage (21,5%), and now estimates his damage at about $ 3 billion.
A similar situation happened with "RUSAL": Berezovsky claims that when creating “Rusal”, he and Patarkatsishvili received 12.5% of aluminum holding, another 25% was acquired by Abramovich. The latter managed the total 50% s share, and was obliged to negotiate all the deals with junior partners. According to Berezovsky, in 2003 Abramovich sold 25% shares for $ 1.75 billion to Oleg Deripaska (he owned 50% of Rusal) without any consent of others. The remaining 25% "lost the value very much" because there was no premium for control, and junior partners received only $ 450 million for them in 2004.
Abramovich's lawyers denied all the claims (their arguments are in the court's decision): there were no similar obligations regarding “Rusal", while in Sibneft, Berezovsky and Patarkatsishvili had no shares at all, and the plaintiff can not prove an obverse. $ 1.3 billion (which Berezovsky calls pay for the shares of Sibneft) had been actually paid, the defense argues: but that was kind of compensation for assistance in the privatization of Sibneft and so on.
Furthermore, Abramovich's lawyers insisted that the court of England could not consider their claim: as the entrepreneur does not live long in this country, the trial should be held in Russia.
The process will begin in October 2011 and may take 10-12 weeks, one of the lawyers of Berezovsky said.
Source: Vedomosti »№ 57 (2575) on 01.04.2010