Rus­sian bil­lion­aire back in Lon­don court

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Bil­lion­aire Oleg Deri­paska ap­peared in a Lon­don court for the sec­ond time this year on Thurs­day, trad­ing barbs about a fel­low busi­ness­man’s lack of in­flu­ence.

The prom­i­nent oli­garch, who has been bat­tling US sanc­tions since ear­lier this year, was giv­ing ev­i­dence in a dis­pute over a valu­able piece of land in cen­tral Moscow. The bil­lion­aire brought the case against Vladimir Ch­er­nukhin, an ally of the for­mer Rus­sian prime min­is­ter Mikhail Kasyanov.

“I don’t want to down­grade your client,” Mr Deri­paska told Mr Ch­er­nukhin’s lawyer. “His ca­reer was to­tally de­vel­oped by his boss.”

The at­tor­ney, Jonathan Crow, ar­gued that Mr Deri­paska chose to deal with Mr Ch­er­nukhin when they agreed to jointly in­vest in the fac­tory site, rather than Mr Ch­er­nukhin’s for­mer part­ner, Lolita Danilina.

Mr Crow said that Ms Danilina had lit­tle if any in­flu­ence and did not ap­pear on a list rank­ing the top Rus­sian busi­ness lead­ers. The bil­lion­aire drew laugh­ter in his re­sponse when he pointed out that this was a list solely for men.

Mr Ch­er­nukhin left Rus­sia for the UK in 2004.“It’s laugh­able to de­scribe him as a ty­coon,” Mr Deri­paska said about Mr Ch­er­nukhin.

Mr Deri­paska said that some Rus­sian oli­garchs had stay­ing power. “I saw your list,” he told Mr Crow. “Who was the real per­son on this list? Who still sits on the list?”

It was the big oli­garchs with large pri­vate busi­nesses, like Ro­man Abramovich, who are “still all there”, he said.

It was Mr Deri­paska’s sec­ond Lon­don High Court ap­pear­ance this year af­ter he fought a law­suit in May against fel­low bil­lion­aire Vladimir Potanin over con­trol of Rus­sia’s largest min­ing com­pany.

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