Vekselberg accused former senator Lebedev of lie in $2bn-dispute

Vekselberg accused former senator Lebedev of lie in $2bn-dispute
Viktor Vekselberg Photo: RBC

Viktor Vekselberg and Leonard Blavatnik presented documents indicating that ex-Senator Leonid Lebedev that claims $2 billion for the sale of TNK-BP may deceive the court. This may be the ground for discontinuance.

Lawyers of Viktor Vekselberg and Leonard Blavatnik filed a new petition with the New York Court that considers the lawsuit of former Senator Leonid Lebedev against them for $2 billion; the document indicates that the senator misled the court. This document is published on the website of the court.

They claim that Lebedev deceived the court, claiming that there were no ties with Coral Petroleum. In 2003, the company received $600 million from Vekselberg and Blavatnik as an indirect share of Lebedev in the Tyumen Oil Company shortly before its merger with BP's assets in Russia (they were merged into TNK-BP). But the ex-Senator insisted that he had nothing to do with this company, and that means that the businessmen did not pay him.

The ties of Lebedev with Coral, according to the petition of Vekselberg and Blavatnik, is based on the documents of the Swiss BNP Paribas, which the bank provided at the request of the court on July 17. These documents referring to the activities of Coral in 2001-2003 state that it was Lebedev that authorized all transfers of funds from the company's account to this bank. In fact, the former Senator controlled the company before he received $600 million from Vekselberg and Blavatnik and after this deal too, business lawyers conclude.

Lebedev claimed that the company belonged to Swiss racing driver Martin Bartek that died in 2011. However, according to the documents of BNP Paribas, he did not even have the right to sign papers, lawyers Vekselberg and Blavatnik state. He was in charge of consulting and administrative services, they conclude.

In their petition, the defendants ask the court to reject Lebedev's suit and compensate them with court costs, which they estimate as tens of millions of dollars. The hearing on the case is scheduled for August 15.

The ex-Senator's representative declined to comment. In an interview with Vedomosti in February 2014, the former legislator said that Coral was under his 'control.' However, he explained that this company acted on his behalf, he received just dividends.

The issues of the affiliation of individuals and companies are the most difficult in legal practice, and they are treated differently depending on legislation, says partner of the law firm Yushin and Partners Anatoly Yushin. But if the documents of BNP Paribas do prove Lebedev's ties with Coral and seem convincing for the New York court, Vekselberg and Blavatnik's chances of prevailing in the action, he notes.

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