Jim Armitage: Strange tale of the investors who didn’t strike gold


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The Independent Online

Global Outlook Where would our British law firms and barristers be without the endlessly deep pockets of Russian and central Asian businessmen, and those who serve them? Next month sees an Oxford-educated American hedge fund tycoon get his day in court against the family firm of the gazillionaire Assaubayev family from Kazakhstan.

The hedgie, Scott Rudmann, claims Aidar Assaubayev misled him when they negotiated to allow the Kazakhs to break a lock-in agreement over their investment in Nectar. Mr Rudmann claims he was persuaded to allow them to withdraw $25m (£15m) to fund the purchase of a gold business.

As a sweetener, Mr Rudmann claims they said the following: let us get our $25m out and we’ll get our hugely rich Kazakh and Russian pals to pump $100m into your fund once we’ve done the gold deal.

Trouble was, the gold deal never happened, the Assaubayevs’ $25m never returned and the $100m was nowhere to be seen, Mr Rudmann claims.

For their part, Mr Assaubayev and the family firm deny all the so-called promises, saying they only ever claimed their rich buddies “could”, rather than “would”, stump up the hundred mill. They say no deals were broken at all, there was no commitment to re-depositing money into the fund and that there was a gentleman’s agreement that they could break the lock-in if they wished.

As intriguing as the lists of the world’s richest oligarchs is the detail in the legal papers of where they like to hang out while in London. So, if you want to collar a billionaire, try lingering at Mayfair’s Four Seasons, InterContinental and Westbury, the Sheraton in Knightsbridge and, in a less salubrious district, the Hilton at Paddington station.