The Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has won the latest stage of his legal battle after a judge in London called his former friend Boris Berezovsky an unreliable witness.
Berezovsky had accused Abramovich of using the threat of Kremlin retribution to frighten him into selling assets at a knockdown price.
Abramovich denied the charge saying he had only ever paid Berezovsky for political cover and protection.
Outside the court Berezovsky gave his reaction to reporters:
“I’m amazed at what happened today. I’m amazed that …. again, my position is very simple, my understanding is very simple, all the evidence that Abramovich presented in court was lies. Everything. Starting from the fact that we haven’t been partners. It’s well known in the business community, in all the business community”
But in court the judge described Abramovich as a truthful and on the whole reliable witness.
The hugely expensive case has laid bare dealings behind the post-Soviet carve up of Russia’s huge natural resources that created the super-rich oligarchs.
The intrigue went all the way to Kremlin where Berezovsky rose from mathematician to power broker under the late Boris Yeltsin. He says he helped Abramovich, who was a commodities broker at the time, to become rich.
His claim for damages ran to 6.5 billion dollars.
Berezovsky is now considering whether to appeal.