Bloomberg News

Berezovsky Says Russia More Corrupt Now Than It Was in 1990s

October 06, 2011

Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Boris Berezovsky, the Russian billionaire living in exile in the U.K., told a London court today Russia is more corrupt now than it was in the 1990s.

“Definitely there was corruption in Russia, much less than now,” he said when testifying in his $5.56 billion lawsuit against former business partner Roman Abramovich. He described corruption in the country during the 1990s as a “three out of 10,” compared with 10 out of 10 now.

The London court case has shed light on the business dealings of two of the world’s richest men, and the chaotic conditions in Russia in the 1990s which allowed a handful of well-connected businessmen to gain control of state assets.

Berezovsky claims Abramovich intimidated him into selling his shares in Russian oil company OAO Sibneft and aluminum producer United Co. Rusal for less than they were worth. Berezovsky says Abramovich told him the Russian state would expropriate the shares if he didn’t sell. He says he lost at least $5.56 billion in the two deals in 2000 and 2004.

Abramovich, who owns London soccer club Chelsea, claims Berezovsky had no stake in the companies and his role was purely as a “power broker,” who used his political influence to set up backroom business deals.

Both men have been present in court with their attendants and bodyguards since the 16-day trial started this week.

--Editors: Christopher Scinta, Peter Chapman

To contact the reporter on this story: Kit Chellel in London cchellel@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net


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