Russian oligarch and his ex-lover are accused of plotting against rival tycoon over sale of Moscow factory in multi-million pound High Court battle
- Energy tycoon Oleg Deripaska and ex minister Vladimir Chernukhin in battle
- They are fighting over a Moscow factory site worth millions to developers
- Case before London’s High Court, where teams of lawyers are squaring up
A Russian oligarch’s ex-lover has been dragged into a £74million High Court battle between two Russian tycoons.
Vladimir Chernukhin, Putin’s former finance minister, is fighting his former business partner Oleg Deripaska, who is also close to the Kremlin and worth £2.5billion.
The pair jointly invested in a Moscow textiles factory in 2001 but fell out in 2008.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and billionare, businessman Oleg Deripaska (left)
Mr Chernukhin claims Mr Deripaska seized the business with an armed group in 2010.
Mr Deripaska was then ordered by an arbitration panel to pay £74million to buy Mr Chernukhin out of the business.
But Mr Deripaska is challenging the order and the case is now being heard before Mr Justice Teare in the Royal Courts of Justice in London where both men have homes.
The case has been complicated by the inclusion of Lolita Danilina, Mr Chernukhin’s former lover.
She claims the former politician failed to offer her a share of his assets when their 17-year relationship ended in 2007.
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Lawyers acting on behalf of Oleg Deripaska, 50, feared Vladimir Chernukhin, 49, and Mrs Danilina, were plotting against him in a deal over the textile factory.
Despite giving evidence on behalf of Mr Deripaska and Mrs Danilina, lawyer Igor Makarov admitted having misgivings about the motives of Mrs Danilina while employed by Basic Element, one of Mr Deripaska’s companies.
In a witness statement put before the High Court in London, Mr Makarov said: ‘We became suspicious as to why Mr Chernukhin was not prepared for Mrs Danilina to be party to the Deed of Release and wondered whether he might be trying to cheat Mrs Danilina out of her share of the sale proceeds if she retained any beneficial interest.
‘Another risk was that Mr Chernukhin and Ms Danilina might be co-ordinating behind our back so that once we completed the transaction with him, she would immediately make a claim against us.’
Vladimir Chernukhin (pictured), Putin’s former finance minister, is fighting his former business partner Oleg Deripaska, who is also close to the Kremlin and worth £2.5billion
Today, Mr Makarov told how he was worried about the relationship between Ms Danilina and Mr Chernukhin, admitting he was in the dark about their attitude towards each other.
Giving evidence in a black suit and blue shirt, bespectacled Mr Makarov, said: ‘What we were concerned with was the fact that we did not know what the relationship between Ms Danilina and Mr Chernukhin was back then.’
Mrs Danilina has no children with Mr Chernukhin but does with former husband Dmitry Danilan.
She and Mr Chernukhin separated in 2007 after 16 years together and were never formally married but, according to Jonathan Crow, QC, acting for Mr Chernukhin, she argues their relationship was akin to marriage.
In documents released to the press, Mr Crow argues against an alleged agreement entitling Mrs Danilina to ‘Family Rights’.
Lawyers acting on behalf of Mrs Danilina and Mr Chernukhin rejected the argument strongly.
They said: ‘These claims address her case that in 2007, when the 16-year relationship between them came to an end, she and Mr Chernukhin agreed to divide their jointly owned ‘family’ assets between them (‘the 2007 Agreement’) – and that she agreed that Mr Chernukhin would implement that agreement on behalf of them both.
The textiles factory in Moscow at the centre of the High Court battle
‘Mrs Danilina alleges that Mr Chernukhin breached the 2007 Agreement and/or is in breach of trust and/or in breach of his fiduciary duties in his dealings with the assets and in particular in respect of a Jersey trust known as ‘the Sanderson Trust’.
‘Mrs Danilina has not received any payments under the 2007 Agreement since 2012 and is being kept out of information about the Sanderson Trust on Mr Chernukhin’s instructions.’
Danilina claims she was the owner of 50 per cent of TGM while Mr Chernukhin claims she was only his nominee.
Mr Crow suggested Mr Makarov was the actual owner.
He denied this and argued he had seen no documentation proving Mr Chernukhin’s position of ownership, adding: ‘We have not seen confirmation of that.’
Mrs Danilina is claiming she owned 50 per cent of the textiles venture but Mr Chernukhin is claiming she was only his nominee.
Both Mr Chernukhin and Mr Deripaska have homes in London and prominent political connections, it is said. The hearing continues.
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