British architect faces off with Poroshenko’s Roshen
A British architect and long-time expatriate businessman in Ukraine will face the Roshen confectionary company in Ukraine’s Supreme Court on Nov. 28, in a legal hearing that could be a key signal for investor confidence and contract law in the country.
Philip Hudson’s architecture, real estate and construction management firm D’Estate, also known as Jones East 8, is suing Roshen, alleging that the candy company – majority owned by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko – has refused to pay for designs and schematics produced by the company.
D’Estate alleges that 40 percent of the contracted fees for designing a milk-processing plant and Roshen business in the city of Vinnytsya, a provincial capital with 370,000 residents located 270 kilometers southeast of Kyiv, have not been paid, and that Roshen has breached contracts by refusing to pay up.
Roshen admits not paying the fees, but says it’s justified in not doing so as the plans were delayed and unusable.
Roshen came under fire in February 2015 when an alleged threatening phone call to D’Estate company director Hanna Nikiforova, in relation to the design and construction deal, left the woman so distraught that she resigned from the company and left the country.
In May 2015, Hudson told the American news magazine Newsweek that Roshen president and 9 percent owner Vyacheslav Moskalevskiy had said Poroshenko's company believed in “mafia management methods” as he justified his company’s refusal to pay.
Hudson believed the telephone call to his company director was further evidence of a gangster mentality within the company.
Roshen has argued that the architect’s designs were delayed, flawed and unusable – an allegation denied by Hudson, who showed Kyiv Post photographs and satellite imagery that he claims proves that Roshen used the plans to go ahead with their buildings.
Pictures seen by the Kyiv Post of the Roshen facility in Vinnytsya and D’Estate’s designs show a very strong resemblance, despite Roshen previously stating that the designs were not usable.
Hudson, who previously sued Roshen unsuccessfully in Vinnytsya – a region of Ukraine where Roshen and Poroshenko have a huge amount of political and judicial influence – is demanding payment of $52,000 in outstanding fees for work undertaken for the confectionary company, plus compensation for the violation of his intellectual property rights and legal costs.
Roshen earlier admitted that they denied all offers of a settlement from Hudson and D’Estate and have denied all wrongdoing or breach of contract.
They have also admitted refusing to pay 40 percent of the fees, but said they were justified in doing so.
The hearing, which will start at the Ukrainian Supreme Court and be heard by three judges on Nov. 28, is an important test for the country’s contract law and will be watched closely by foreign investors.
People walk past a Roshen confectionary shop on Khreshchatyk Street in Kyiv on Sept. 28, 2018. On Nov. 28, British architect Philip Hudson will face President Petro Poroshenko's Roshen confectionary company in a long-awaited hearing at Ukraine's Supreme Court. (Volodymyr Petrov)