Controversial Russian aluminium magnate Oleg Deripaska was acquitted of a contempt of court charge in a British court last week, ending a chapter in a legal fight with a former business associate.
The London High Court ruled on Wednesday that former Russian finance minister Vladimir Chernukhin failed to prove his case against Deripaska. The case involved a plan to develop real estate in Moscow and Deripaska’s alleged breach of his contractual duties related to it.
The crux of Chernukhin’s complaint at bar was that Deripaska was in contempt of court for allowing En+ Group to move from Jersey to Russia. En+ Group owns 57 percent of Rusal. Chernukhin says Deripaska breached their agreement by leaving 45.5 million shares of En+ Group in Jersey to settle a US$95 million debt.
Testifying remotely from Moscow due to fears that his appearance in London may prompt British authorities to extradite him to the United States, Deripaska said that the move to Moscow was necessary to preserve the stocks’ value. En+ Group is currently under US sanction due to Deripaska’s involvement with the firm.
Judge Mark Pelling said in a written opinion that Chernukhin’s contention that En+ shares became worthless upon its move to Russia was “simply wrong.” Chernukhin sought to appeal the ruling shortly after it was handed down but it has already been denied.
A spokesperson representing Deripaska said in a statement after the ruling that the case never had a chance at trial.
“Mr Chernukhin’s case collapsed like a house of cards under the scrutiny of the trial.”
“The ridiculous accusations raised by Mr Chernukhin were nothing but shameless lies driven by animosity, gall, and petty grudges,” the spokesperson continued. “Mr Deripaska is glad to see that this time, despite the ongoing frenzy, the UK courts demonstrate independence and choose to rule cases on their merits.”
Chernukhin’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.