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Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch, has alleged in the High Court that the businessman suing him in a $1bn lawsuit was “a criminal with a network of organised crime groups and associates”.
Mr Deripaska is fighting a case brought by Michael Cherney, who alleges the two men were business partners and that he is owed a $1bn share of aluminium company Rusal.
But Mr Deripaska denies the claims, saying they were never partners and he was forced to make dolya cash payments to Cherney in a sophisticated protection racket during Russia’s bloody “aluminium wars” in the 1990s.
In written arguments submitted by Tom Beazley QC, the aluminium tycoon claims Mr Cherney “grew up in a criminal environment in Uzbekistan” and “operated as a tsekhovik”, or “illegal entrepreneur”, before fleeing to Moscow “after his two senior criminal associates were killed by another brigade”.
Mr Cherney allegedly formed ties with two crime groups, Izmailovskaya and Podolskaya, and “became a connecting link between the criminal community in Uzbekistan and the criminal underworld in Moscow … ”, documents claim.
Mr Beazley told the High Court Mr Cherney was not simply a “non-conventional businessman” and “there was no partnership” between the two men, adding Mr Cherney’s case was based on a “serious flaw, a fatal flaw”.
The case continues.