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Roman Abramovich, Chelsea Owner, Defeats Boris Berezovsky's £3bn Claim In UK High Court

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Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky has lost his High Court battle with Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich.

Berezovsky, 66, was claiming more than £3bn damages at a High Court trial after accusing the 45-year-old Russian billionaire businessman of blackmail, breach of trust and breach of contract, but the judge said the former billionaire had been "clearly making his evidence up as he went along."

Berezovsky told the trial, which started in London last October and ended in January, that Abramovich "intimidated" him into selling shares in a Russian oil company at a fraction of their value.


Roman Abramovich has defeated Boris Berezovsky's claim

He also told judge Mrs Justice Gloster that Abramovich broke a promise made during a deal relating to a Russian aluminium company.

Abramovich, who was not in court to hear his victory, disputed the claims.

Announcing her decision, Mrs Justice Gloster said she found Abramovich "to be a truthful, and on the whole reliable, witness".

Berezovsky was "an unimpressive, and inherently unreliable witness who regarded truth as a transitory, flexible concept."

During the trial, Berezovsky labelled Abramovich a "gangster". Abramovich said there was at times "something of a megalomaniac" about Berezovsky.

boris berezovsky

Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, (centre), arrives at the High Court, central London, where he lost his battle with Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich

They were escorted by bodyguards and sat in either corner of the courtroom during attended hearings - never speaking to each other.

The legal fight centred on deals done in Russia following the break-up of the Soviet Union two decades ago.

Berezovsky - who attended court today for the ruling - told the trial that Abramovich had "intimidated" him into selling shares in a Russian oil company at a fraction of their value.

He also told the judge that Abramovich had broken a promise made during a deal relating to a Russian aluminium company.

During the trial, Laurence Rabinowitz QC, for Berezovsky, said both men had worked together to acquire Russian oil company Sibneft - and became friends.

Jonathan Sumption QC, for Abramovich, said Berezovsky was paid millions of pounds by businesses controlled by Abramovich for his services as a "political godfather".

But Sumption said Berezovsky had not "contributed a single cent" to acquiring or building up Sibneft, nor made any managerial contribution.

boris berezovsky

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky

The judge said Berezovsky had at times been "deliberately dishonest; sometimes he was clearly making his evidence up as he went along in response to the perceived difficulty in answering the questions in a manner consistent with his case; at other times, I gained the impression that he was not necessarily being deliberately dishonest, but had deluded himself into believing his own version of events.

"On occasions he tried to avoid answering questions by making long and irrelevant speeches, or by professing to have forgotten facts which he had been happy to record in his pleadings or witness statements.

"He embroidered and supplemented statements in his witness statements, or directly contradicted them."

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