Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska wins contempt case at UK High Court

Industrialist considered an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska attends the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia last year. Reuters
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The UK High Court cleared Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska of contempt on Wednesday.

The industrialist, who is considered an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been involved in a long-running legal battle with Russia's former deputy finance minister Vladimir Chernukhin over the development of an “extremely valuable” site in central Moscow.

Mr Chernukhin, whose wife Lubov is a Conservative Party donor, previously claimed Mr Deripaska had deliberately put millions of his shares in aluminium and power company EN+ Group “beyond the reach” of the English courts.

In 2020, the former minister claimed Mr Deripaska arranged for EN+ to be “redomiciled” from Jersey to Russia in breach of an undertaking to the court to preserve his EN+ shares, which were then said to be worth about £190 million ($237 million).

At a hearing in March, lawyers for Mr Chernukhin alleged the oligarch had committed “serious and deliberate breaches” of the undertaking and that he should be found in contempt of court.

Contempt of court can be punished by an unlimited fine and up to two years in prison.

However, in a ruling on Wednesday, Judge Mark Pelling KC dismissed the bid, finding that Mr Chernukhin had not proved his case against Mr Deripaska.

Oligarchs sanctioned by the UK — in pictures

Mr Pelling said the allegation of breaching the undertaking “depends upon proof to the criminal standard that the shares in EN+ Group PLC were cancelled upon it changing its domicile to Russia”.

“That has not been proved,” he said. “On that basis this allegation must fail.”

The industrialist was initially sanctioned by the US for “having acted or purported to act on behalf of, directly or indirectly, a senior official of the government of the Russian Federation, and for operating in the energy sector of the Russian Federation economy”.

He was one of seven oligarchs hit with sanctions by the UK on March 10 last year.

Mr Deripaska was described as being “closely associated” with the Russian government and its leader and “involved in destabilising and threatening” Ukraine.

Four days after the sanctions were imposed, four protesters broke into one of Mr Deripaska’s properties in Belgravia Square, London, before declaring it “belongs to Ukrainian refugees”.

Updated: April 05, 2023, 8:59 PM

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