Russian aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska was cleared of contempt of court by London’s High Court on Wednesday in a long-running legal battle with his former business partner.
The founder of aluminium giant Rusal (RUAL.MM) was alleged to have breached an undertaking to the court in a lawsuit brought by former Russian finance minister Vladimir Chernukhin over a joint venture to develop real estate in Moscow.
But Judge Mark Pelling ruled on Wednesday that Chernukhin had not proved his case against Deripaska – who is subject to Western sanctions imposed due to his perceived links to the Kremlin.
A spokesperson for Deripaska said in a statement: “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. 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.”
Lawyers representing Chernukhin did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Chernukhin had said Deripaska was in contempt by allowing EN+ Group, which owns a 57% stake in Rusal, to relocate from Jersey to Russia.
Contempt of court can be punished by up to two years in prison and an unlimited fine.
Chernukhin – whose wife Lubov Chernukhin has given more than 2 million pounds ($2.5 million) to Britain’s ruling Conservative party and its lawmakers since 2012 – alleged Deripaska breached an undertaking to preserve 45.5 million EN+ shares in Jersey to meet a $95 million debt, which has since been paid in full.
His lawyer Jonathan Crow argued at a hearing last month that the shares were rendered “worthless” because of the difficulty in enforcing debts against Deripaska in Russia.
Deripaska gave evidence by videolink from Moscow, which his lawyer said was in part because of concerns that U.S. charges for allegedly violating sanctions could have prompted U.S. authorities to seek Deripaska’s extradition from London.
Learn more: Reuters