January 23, 2012
It came to a very British end, this most Russian saga. The barristers thanked the judge, the judge thanked the typists and the translators and, after nearly four months of quite extraordinary testimony, all rose and filed out of the neon striplit box that is Court 26 of London’s new Commercial Court, and returned to their wildly different lives.
The armies of bodyguards, and their paymasters, shuffled into their blacked out Maybachs and Bentleys and drove away for the final time. It is expected to be six months before Mrs Justice Gloster returns to give Messrs Abramovich and Berezovsky her answer to the six billion dollar question.
Was Mr Berezovsky intimidated into selling off his ownership stake in Mr Abramovich’s valuable commodities companies for a “mere” £800m – “nothing” as he claims, and so is entitled to a further £3.5bn of the profits? Or was he no more than a “political godfather”, entitled to no more than a series of mysterious “krysha” payments? The Russian word for roof, implying physical, and in this case political protection, has hung over this trial, and it is still not entirely clear quite what it means. We shall have to wait and see.
But in the meantime, here are some of the highlights of the biggest private litigation in English legal history, and one that has shed piercing light on the otherwise dark and secretive world of the Russian oligarchy.
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