Yesterday was a big day for Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich who testified before a judge and lawyers in London, saying that, despite official claims, he has no higher education, and ‘backdated the documents’. He also told the court that wages of $200,000 a year for his friend was nothing.
Berezovsky is suing his former associate for $5.5 billion. The fugitive oligarch claims Abramovich threatened him into selling his share in Sibneft and Russian Aluminum at a knockdown price in 2001-2004. Abramovich denies allegations, claiming Berezovsky had never owned the assets in question and that he had been paying Berezovsky for his services as a political godfather.
Abramovich’s appearance in a witness’s box drew a wide media response in the UK.
The lawyer of Berezovsky emphasized the discrepancies in the official biography of Roman Abramovich.
At the beginning he asked whether Abramovich had graduated from Moscow Road Construction and Automobile Institute in 1987.
“That is a mistake. I left without a degree. I have not prepared by graduate paper, but I have attended courses,” he said somewhat angry.
It emerged that at the end of the 1980s he was a senior welder in a Moscow-based building enterprise. He also studied in a Moscow State Law Academy for a year.
Referring to Evgeny Shvidler, president of Abramovich’s Millhouse Capital that operates the oligarch’s assets since 2001, he said that they had met each other when Abramovich had headed a rubber toy production firm called Uyut. Asked how much Shvidler had been paid as a president of Sibneft from 1998 to 2005, Abramovich said he did not remember but certainly less than $200,000 a year. He added that Shvindler had become a millionaire later, and while the president of Sibneft he had “not had property”.
Abramovich described Aleksandr Voloshin, an influential Kremlin official at the time of Boris Yeltsin, as his friend and member of his team.
The lawyer of Berezovsky continued to ask about Roman Abramovich’s detention on suspicion of “procuring financial gain by means of fraud”. Abramovich said that he had never forged documents, but from time to time would backdate the necessary documents, which, he said, had been a normal practice.
In the end the lawyer asked Abramovich whom the idea of establishing Sibneft had belonged.
“I have come up with that idea, and approached Petr Aven with it. He advised me to discuss the idea with Berezovsky,” the court heard. Abramovich said that he had not been aware of the fact that Berezovsky was a scientist and academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He knew Berezovsky was running car manufacturer LogoVAZ and a Ponzi scheme called Avva.