Oligarch linked to politicians 'ordered murder of banker’
By Sam Marsden | Telegraph – 10 hours ago
A Russian oligarch linked to George Osborne and Lord Mandelson has been accused of ordering the murder of a banker, belonging to a mafia group and bribing a governor over a business deal, the High Court heard.
|Oleg Deripaska at Davos|
Mr Deripaska alleged in court documents that Mr Cherney was a criminal who used threats to impose an extortion racket on him. Lawyers for Mr Cherney, a Ukrainian-born billionaire living in exile in Israel, denied the claims and referred to serious allegations made against the Russian oligarch. In written submissions to the court, it was said that Djalol Khaidarov, an Uzbek businessman, had told prosecutors in the US, Israel and Russia that Mr Deripaska was involved in bribing a governor in Siberia to secure the takeover of an aluminium plant.
The statement also alleges that he was a member of an organised crime group and ordered the murder of Vadim Yafyasov, a businessman, in 1995. The court documents also quoted Mr Khaidarov as telling Israeli police in 2001 that people such as Mr Deripaska employ former agents of Russia’s security service and “constantly receive information from the security authorities”.
Mark Howard QC, for Mr Cherney, said in the written submissions: “Much of the highly selective material relied upon by Mr Deripaska (whether admissible or inadmissible) implicates Mr Deripaska himself in serious criminality, at least as much as Mr Cherney.”
Mr Deripaska tried to place restrictions on the disclosure of evidence during the current hearings, it was claimed. Mr Howard said the Russian had accused Mr Cherney of running an “old-fashioned extortion racket”.
“On the other hand, those who had prior business relationships with Mr Cherney are likely to find those relationships embarrassing and inconvenient now that Mr Cherney is no longer on good terms with Mr Deripaska and is persona non grata in Russia.”
|Oleg Deripaska's Yacht|
A spokesman for Mr Deripaska, who did not attend court yesterday, said the oligarch “vehemently denies” the allegations. “Mr Deripaska has stated that Mr Cherney is a criminal with whom he was forced to enter into a krysha relationship [protection] in post-Soviet Russia. He was never business partners with Mr Cherney and he rejects the entirety of the claim brought against him. He looks forward to demonstrating in court that Mr Cherney’s allegations are untrue.”
Mr Cherney, who will give evidence to the hearing via videolink because of an outstanding arrest warrant relating to a money-laundering investigation in Spain, denies any criminal involvement and claims that his relationship with Mr Deripaska was purely a business one.
Lawyers for the two billionaires will finish outlining their cases this week. The hearing will then be adjourned until September, when witnesses, due to include Mr Abramovich, will be called.