Oligarchs set for High Court showdown

Now Russian billionaires Oleg Deripaska and Michael Cherney bring their dispute to London

London will once again become the legal battleground for feuding Russian oligarchs this week, when Michael Cherney – speaking via videolink from Israel – takes on his former business partner, Oleg Deripaska, in the High Court.

On the face of it, the case is a breach-of-contract dispute. In reality it is more likely to be an epic legal drama lasting five months and featuring allegations of protection rackets and gangsterism, the creation of the one of the world's biggest companies and a vivid description of the so-called "aluminium wars" that defined the often violent free-for-all of Russian privatisation in the 1990s.

The first witness will take the stand on Thursday. Although, technically, he won't. Mr Cherney is the first witness, but will be giving his evidence via videolink from Israel. He is unable to set foot in the UK for fear of arrest, as the Spanish authorities want to question him over money-laundering allegations. Mr Deripaska has been questioned as part of the same investigation.

There has been a dispute over where the trial should be held. A senior Russian lawyer told The Independent on Sunday that the British judiciary cannot possibly comprehend how Russia, particularly Siberia, functioned 20 years ago as a people who had barely been fed under Communism made their grab for wealth.

Featuring in British newspaper headlines will not be a new experience for Mr Deripaska. In 2008, his name was all over the press when he hosted the former Labour minister Lord Mandelson and the future chancellor George Osborne on his £70m yacht off the coast of Corfu.

The trip provoked a political row when Mr Osborne claimed in Parliament that Lord Mandelson had been indiscreet about the Prime Minister at dinner with Mr Deripaska. Mr Osborne was later openly criticised in a letter to The Times by the banker Nat Rothschild who invited both Mr Osborne and Lord Mandelson to the dinner. Mr Rothschild accused Mr Osborne of inviting a Tory fundraiser to the dinner who was alleged to have solicited a donation from the oligarch, a claim denied by the Conservative Party.

Also in 2008, as commodity prices, and Mr Deripaska's aluminium company Rusal, were hit by the financial crisis, he had to get a $4.5bn bailout loan authorised by Vladimir Putin. The group has since been accused of being overburdened with debt by a former chairman – yet another oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg.

London's courts are popular with wealthy litigants from the former Soviet Union. Just last month, Roman Abramovich won a case against the billionaire Kremlin critic Boris Berezovsky, who had accused the Chelsea Football Club owner of intimidating him into selling shares in an oil company. This focused on the origins of a company called Sibneft in the early days of Boris Yeltsin's regime, and is thought to be the biggest private litigation battle in history.

For Abramovich, Berezovsky and Sibneft, read Deripaska, Cherney and United Company Rusal – the world's biggest aluminium company. Mr Cherney is claiming that Mr Deripaska owes him 20 per cent of Rusal's predecessor company, Russian Aluminium, after an agreement made in 2001 at a London Hotel related to their earlier empire-building as business partners. Mr Deripaska will argue that this was, in fact, extortion. Opening remarks were heard in July, but the trial was adjourned while the judge, Justice Peter Smith, tried to absorb the details of what will be a hugely complicated case.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
people
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little