Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich emerged triumphant on Friday from a UK court battle against exiled Russian tycoon and Kremlin critic Boris Berezovsky.
In the biggest-ever private case heard by a London court, Berezovsky, 65, had alleged that Abramovich, 45, betrayed him and intimidated him into selling shares in the Russian oil company Sibneft for a "mere $1.3 billion." He also claimed that Abramovich had broken a promise in a deal involving the Russian aluminum company Rusal, and sought $5.5 billion in damages, media reports said.
Dismissing Berezovsky's claims, London Commercial Court Judge Elizabeth Gloster told a packed courtroom that Berozovsky had been an "inherently unreliable" 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." She also dismissed Berezovsky's claims in relation to Sibneft and his other allegation that Abramovich broke a promise over the Rusal deal "in their entirety."
"My faith in the British legal system has been destroyed," Berezovsky told journalists after the ruling. Asked whether he would appeal the verdict, he said "that will depend if I have any faith left."
Abramovich had denied that Berezovsky was a former business partner and said he was paying him to end an arrangement on "political protection."
A former Kremlin insider during the rule of President Boris Yeltsin, Berezovsky told the court that his business relations with Abramovich had broken down since he fled Russia after falling out with President Vladimir Putin.
Both sides had accused each other of dishonesty during the three-month trial that ended in January last.
A Russian court had sentenced Berezovsky to six years in jail in absentia in November, 2007 for stealing millions of dollars from the Russian flag carrier Aeroflot in the 1990s. He was sentenced to a further 13 years in absentia in June, 2009 for stealing thousands of cars from carmaker Avtovaz, also in the 1990s, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
However, Berezovsky denied the charges.
by RTT Staff Writer
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