The billionaire owner of Barclays Premier League club Chelsea was accused of betraying the man who allegedly helped to build his fortune so that he could curry favour with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Roman Abramovich, in a rare public appearance, listened as lawyers for Boris Berezovsky told the High Court in London that the Russian oligarch had taken advantage of his former mentor’s fall from grace to enrich himself by bullying him out of billions of dollars worth of shares.
Berezovsky, 65, is suing Abramovich for more than $6 billion. He claims that he was intimidated by Abramovich, 44, into selling his stake in Sibneft, an oil company, for far less than it was worth after being forced to flee Russia, having fallen out with the Kremlin.
Berezovsky claims that Abramovich coerced him into selling his 21.5 percent stake in Sibneft, which was created through the privatization ofRussia’s oil infrastructure, for only $1.3 billion, when it was worth up to $6 billion.
He claims Abramovich threatened that his assets would be seized by the Kremlin and his friends in Russia would be in danger if he did not sell the shares for less than they were worth.
This is denied by Abramovich, who argues that they were never business partners.
The case, which has been through four years of preliminary skirmishes, is one of the biggest trials to have come before the English courts. Insiders claim that it will put the publicity-shy Abramovich’s business dealings under uncomfortable scrutiny and expose his ties with the Kremlin.
The trial is expected to last three months.
Buford Balony says: Hopefully this is the end for Chelski and they return to where they belong…at the bottom of the table.