Putin’s billionaire ally will be able to have another opportunity to see his business rival imprisoned for breaching a court order after Appeal judges decided that legal action was more then just revenge in the long-running conflict over Moscow factory ownership

  • Vladimir Chernukhin participated in legal proceedings with OlegDeripaska
  • He was awarded a $95 million US dollar award from Deripaska in 2017.
  • On June 20, 2020, Mr Justice Andrew Baker denied Mr Chernukhin’s motion to imprison Mr Deripaska for contempt of the court.
  • Three Court of Appeal Judges overturned the decision on Tuesday 

An ally of Vladimir Putin tried to put a Russian oligarch behind bars for violating a court order. The High Court must now hear the case, according to the Court of Appeal.

Oleg Deripaska has been involved in a long-running legal battle with Vladimir Chernukhin, a Russian former deputy finance minister in the early 2000s, over the ownership of an ‘extremely valuable’ site in central Moscow.

US sanctions against Mr Deripaska have made him the target of US intelligence Committee reports. They cited his links with the Russian government and Russian intelligence agencies in the report. But he denies any wrongdoing. 

In July 2017, Mr Chernukhin received an award of around $95million (£71million) from Mr Deripaska, leading to an asset freezing order of £87.5 million in 2018.

But, Chernukhin claimed that Mr Deripaska had previously made millions out of shares in the aluminium- and power giant EN+ Group to ‘beyond’ the English courts.

At a hearing last year, the former minister claimed Mr Deripaska arranged for EN+ to be ‘redomiciled’ from Jersey to Russia in breach of an undertaking to the court to preserve his EN+ shares, which were then said to be worth around £190 million.

Mister Justice Andrew Baker rejected Mr Chernukhin’s request to send Mr. Deripaska into prison for contempt. He ruled that the application was motivated by’revenge’ and an abuse of procedure.

Three Court of Appeal Judges overturned the decision on Tuesday.

Vladimir Chernukhin arriving at the High Court

Oleg Deripaska, leaving court

Vladimir Chernukhin, left, and Oleg Deripaska, right. Russian deputy finance minister Oleg Deripaska, left, and Vladimir Chernukhin (right), previously claimed that Deripaska intentionally placed millions in his shares in aluminum giant EN+ Group.

The row centred on a former textile factory in Moscow (pictured), worth millions to developers

This row was about a Moscow-based former textile plant (pictured), which is worth many millions to developers

Last month’s hearing saw Mr Chernukhin’s lawyers argue that the decision of Mr Justice Andrew Baker was founded on a fundamental misunderstanding of Mr Deripaska’s actions, which rendered his prior undertakings worthless.

They also said Mr Deripaska’s breach of the undertakings had caused ‘significant losses’, including legal costs of around £1 million in multiple jurisdictions.

Lady Justice Carr was seated with Lord Justice Snowden and Lady Justice Asplin. She stated that although the High Court judge had thought carefully about the best way to proceed, and tried long and hard for fair and efficient resolutions, he had made a mistake.

Oligarch Oleg Deripaska, pictured with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Nizhny Novgorod

Oligarch Oleg deripaska, seen with Russian President Vladimir Putin at Nizhny Novgorod 

Chernukhin is the husband of Russian socialite Lubov, 48, who is seen here outside court

Chernukhin, the 48-year-old husband of Russian socialite Lubov is shown here at court

“The judge failed not to recognize that the appellants’ concerns, which were intended to address by the undertakings, weren’t so much about Mr. Deripaska’s commercial value in EN+ Jersey or his overall wealth, but more about the appellants’ ability to immediately and easily enforce the award against him assets.

Lady Justice Carr said: “He made an error in treating Mr Chernukhin’s subjective motive which he believed to be revenge for Mr Deripaska’s failure to drop his private case against Mr Chernukhin and personal animosity, as grounds for striking out this contempt application.

Three judges have ruled that the High Court will hear the case again.