Money talks: The battle of the billionaires
A sizeable contingent of the world's super-rich has featured in the court case involving Roman Abramovich and Boris Berezovsky. But who are these people? And whose side are they on?
Blacked-out Maybachs, private jets, sprawling yachts, glamorous women, helicopter crashes, Arab sheikhs and murdered spies: the transcripts of the extraordinary court case between Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea football club, and his nemesis, Boris Berezovsky, read like the pages of a Hollywood script.
Re-imagined as a child's fairy tale, it might go a little like this: At the top of three flights of winding stairs, in a dimly lit room, down a quiet alleyway in London town, there is a box. And in that box, enough very rich men to fill a football team have quietly sat, one by one, to try to explain why one of the very, very rich men named above should be given a very, very big bit of the other very, very rich man's fortune.
Now, after eight weeks, all the billionaires have been and gone, and Lady Justice Gloster must decide who to give the money to. She still has to hear from expert witnesses in Russian history and Russian law. But the difficulty she faces is that the two accounts of what happened are so wildly different.
Very simply, Mr Berezovsky claims Mr Abramovich forced him to sell valuable shares in commodities firms they jointly owned, or face their being reappropriated by the Kremlin. Mr Abramovich says the pair were never business partners and that Mr Berezovsky owned nothing and was simply his "political godfather", whom he paid for protection and political influence.
Little ground has been conceded by either side as the case has laid bare the extraordinary conditions of "Wild East" Russia in the 1990s. Such a situation "has not been seen in this country since the 15th century", Mr Abramovich's barrister, Jonathan Sumption QC, told the judge. It was "not easy" for British lawyers to understand, he said. "But", he added, "your Ladyship must have read Shakespeare."
Both barristers are yet to make their closing remarks. Mr Sumption will do so shortly before Christmas; Mr Berezovsky's barrister, Laurence Rabinowitz QC, will do so in the new year.
Meanwhile, Mrs Justice Gloster has a script far longer than any of the Bard's to ponder, and is not expected to report until at least April.
In the blue corner... Team Roman
Abramovich's closest aide and business partner. Said "egoentric" Berezovsky had used Abramovich as his personal "cashier" and that he was "crazy" to agree to Mr Berezovsky's $1.3bn in protection money in 2001. Said Berezovsky's alleged blackmail was "totally out of character for Mr Abramovich".
Now a Chelsea director, he joined Sibneft in 1998. Told court that fellow former Abramovich aide Ruslan Fomichev had decided not to appear as a witness after receiving a text from Berezovsky. "It said that, 'I know you're helping them. I'm watching you'," claimed Mr Tenenbaum.
Emerged from the aluminium wars with a reputation far less muddied than many of his associates, the metals magnate is now a partner of Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov. Sold several of the case's disputed assets to Abramovich in 2000, including the world's largest aluminium smelter at Krasnoyarsk.
His father was the boss of an oil firm Abramovich wanted to buy to form Sibneft, and suddenly Abramovich gives him a job at his oil trading company. Since 2009, he has been second-in-command at Millhouse, Mr Abramovich's investment company.
Putin's favourite oligarch gave his evidence from New York. Said he once disliked Berezovsky but was now "completely indifferent" and described a crucial meeting at London's Dorchester Hotel in March 2000, at which Berezovsky arrived late and wearing a dressing gown.
A former Chief of Staff to Presidents Yeltsin and Putin, Voloshin may, or may not, be a billionaire. He is, however, chairman of the world's largest leading nickel and palladium producer, Norilsk Nickel, which reported revenues of US$15bn in 2010.
In the red corner... Team Boris
He and his brother Simon are ranked as the UK's second richest people, having made billions exporting Russian aluminium in the 1990s. Says when he sold aluminium to Mr Abramovich he had to ask "Who is Roman?" – and that Mr Berezovsky and his business partner Badri Patarkatsishvilli were partners in the deal.
The actual wealth of the former No 2 at infamous oil firm Yukos is difficult to ascertain since the company was vaporised by Putin's Kremlin and he went into exile in Israel. Ha said that when he first tried to merge Yukos with Sibneft in 1998, he was told that "the final say would be Berezovsky's".
Worth: £1.4bn (in 2004)
The former Aeroflot director and godfather to Mr Berezovsky's children was a rich man until his imprisonment in 2000. Mr Berezovsky says his jailing was part of a bid by the Kremlin to bully him into selling shares. Said he was told before his arrest that he would be killed on his way to the Public Prosecutor's Office.
Declined to give evidence via videolink, fearing it might compromise his own lawsuit against a fellow aluminium magnate. Berezovsky said Chernoy had given him $50m to "help me with my life" – not to cover cost of trial.
Worth: £650m (in 2006)
Mr Berezovsky's most important business partner would have been the most important witness had he not died unexpectedly in 2008, whereupon his assets were seized by Georgian authorities. Made billions from "decriminalising" Russia's gangland aluminium industry.
Worth: £7.7bn (estimated wealth at time of death)
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