City heavyweights are poised to do battle tomorrow in a multi-billion pound case involving two oligarchs and alleged fraud at a Ukrainian national bank, a case that could also have implications for England and Wales’ status as an attractive destination for international dispute resolution.
A seven-day hearing is due to begin in the Rolls Building pitting the now nationalised PrivatBank against its two former owners, Igor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Bogolyubov. In a particulars of claim form filed with the court and seen by the Gazette, PrivatBank alleges that the pair ‘procured and were the ultimate beneficiaries of’ misappropriation between 2013 and 2014.
The government took control of the bank at the end of 2016 and since then has claimed to have spent more than £5bn trying to rectify suspected fradulent lending and money laundering. At the end of last year, the bank applied to freeze the pair’s worldwide assets and demanded nearly $2bn (£1.5bn) plus interest from the men.
At tomorrow’s hearing, Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov will question whether the High Court has jurisdiction to hear the case and will apply for the freezing orders to be lifted. If they are unsuccesful, PrivatBank will begin its case.
PrivatBank, represented by Hogan Lovells, alleges that the pair cost taxpayers billions during their ownership. According to the particulars of claim, the bank made a series of loans to borrowers totaling tens of millions of pounds despite the fact the borrowers were all linked to or affiliates of the men and had no prospect of repaying the loans.
International firm Fieldfisher is representing Kolomoisky while Bogolyubov is represented by US firm Skadden. Another six companies are also listed as defendants. The companies, all English and British Virgin Islands-based which at one time were allegedly owned by either of the two men, are being represented by Pinsent Masons.
Fieldfisher and Skadden declined to comment further. Pinsent Masons has been contacted for comment.
Erskine Chambers’ Stephen Smith QC is acting for Hogan Lovells, Mark Howard QC of Brick Court Chambers is being instructed by Fieldfisher, Skadden is instructing 3VB’s Ali Malek QC and Pinsent Masons is instructing Sonia Tolaney QC of One Essex Court.