Evgeny Shvidler, Abramovich’s right-hand man and former president of Sibneft, gave testimony before the UK High Court in London. He told the judges of his role in striking purchase agreements for Rusal assets and buying Sibneft oil giant. Boris Berezovsky’s lawyer struggled to show that in every agreement signed Abramovich and Shvidler, like Badri Patarkatsishvili and Berezovsky, were partners or parties to a contract. It emerged from Shvidler’s testimony that he had never been Abramovich’s full partner.
The court heard about the loans-for-shares scheme, under which Oil Financial Company or NFK acquired state-owned Sibneft. For two times Berezovsky was a chairman of NFK. “He was appointed twice,” Shvidler said. According to him, Berezovsky did not run the company, but to sign a contract he had to have a position in NFK.
Asked what happened with the income he received from selling the share in Rusal, Shvidler said that he partially used it to buy soccer players for clubs.
The court was presented with a skeleton agreement, signed among others by Shvidler. The agreement is dated 10 February 2000 and relates to the acquisition of the aluminium assets by Abramovich. Later on the assets were merged with the rest of Deripaska’s aluminum empire. Shvidler said that although in the agreement his name appears along with other purchasers, Abramovich and Patarkatsishvili, he signed the agreement only because he was a negotiator. “If I had not signed it, it would have looked like suspicious,” he said. He also explained why he had signed a merger agreement with Oleg Deripaska. Shvidler said that in fact there were only two parties in the deal, Abramovich and Deripaska.
Shvidler also told the court of the meeting of Deripaska with Patarkatsishvili, Abramovich and Berezovsky, which took place at Dorchester hotel on 13 March 2000. Shvidler said that this meeting was not to discuss the merger of aluminum assets. “I know that it is not good to joke in such manner but if Deripaska had thought that he had had a meeting with Rusal partners, he would have had a stroke!” Shvidler said, most probably referring to Berezovsky.
Berezovsky’s layer failed to make Shvidler show that his client owned a share in Sibneft. However it emerged from Shvidler’s testimony that he had been just a manager, not a business partner of Abramovich. “I have received the salary only. For 5 or 6 years Abramovich paid for my way of life, as he did for that of other managers. He paid for my holidays and cruises. In 1998 he gave me and my wife a house as a gift”