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Case finds "compelling evidence" of political interference in Russian courts

Case finds

Thursday 30 July 2020

Case finds "compelling evidence" of political interference in Russian courts


A company founded by a controversial billionaire oligarch has failed in its attempt to move a court battle over intellectual property from Jersey to Russia.

Rusal, the world’s second biggest producer of aluminium, recently went to the island’s Court of Appeal to overturn an earlier Royal Court judgment which concluded that a businesswoman seeking damages from the company wouldn’t receive justice if the case was heard in Russia.

But the Court of Appeal stood by the lower court’s decision, that there was compelling evidence that the Russian commercial courts, known as the Arbitrazh, could be subject to outside and political interference.

In particular, Appeal judge George Bompas agreed that Rusal’s founder, Oleg Deripaska, who still has a significant shareholding in the company, not only had the ability to exert influence on a Russian court and would be willing to do so, but he also had reason to wish to do so in this particular case.

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Pictured: Court of Appeal judge George Bompas dismissed Rusal’s appeal.

Rusal was registered in Jersey when it is alleged the company passed on confidential information to a manufacturer about the design of a fabric used to line railway wagons transporting alumina.

The businesswoman suing Rusal, Tatiana Golovina, claims that the design belonged to her and Rusal was part of a conspiracy to injure her (and connected company MB & Services Ltd) by infringing their intellectual property rights. Rusal's parent company has since moved its official headquarters back to Russia.

Ms Golovina sued in Jersey and has fought Rusal’s attempts to move the case to Russia, saying that she would not return to the country for any court case out of fear. The Royal Court also accepted evidence that Rusal had attempted to persuade Ms Golovina’s lawyer to stop representing her by offering him a bribe.

It added that there was compelling evidence that Mr Deripaska had also been willing to use unlawful means to try and dissuade Ms Golovina from pursuing her claim.

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Pictured: The case was heard in Jersey's Court of Appeal.

In his own judgment, Mr Bompas said: “Rusal has not put forward an attack on the Royal Court’s conclusions which has a real prospect of succeeding on appeal. The conclusions were well within the range of what was reasonably open to the Royal Court on the evidence before it, and there is no basis for saying that the Royal Court misunderstood the evidence.”

Rusal was previously featured in Jersey Finance promotional material to illustrate the island’s business links with Russia. Two years ago, the organisation, which is part-funded by public money, was forced to backtrack after the United States imposed sanctions on both the company and Mr Deripaska.

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