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Judge Dismisses Aeroflot’s $23 Million Berezovsky Fraud Lawsuit

Oct. 30 (Bloomberg) -- A U.K. judge threw out OAO Aeroflot’s attempt to force Boris Berezovsky, the self-exiled former billionaire adviser to the late President Boris Yeltsin, to re-pay money Russian prosecutors say he stole in the 1990s.

Aeroflot lacks jurisdiction to enforce payment of 720 million rubles ($23 million) by Berezovsky and Nikolai Glushkov, a former executive at the carrier also living in the U.K., Judge Christopher Floyd said in a written judgment today.

The lawsuit follows Berezovsky’s 2007 conviction by a Russian court, in absentia, on allegations he used a Swiss company, Andava SA, to embezzle money from state-controlled Aeroflot, Russia’s largest airline. Berezovsky fled Russia in 2001 and didn’t return to fight the charges, which he says are politically motivated.

Berezovsky “was pleased with the judgment,” his lawyer, Garbhan Shanks, said in a telephone interview. Representatives at Aeroflot didn’t return calls and an e-mail seeking comment.

Berezovsky has spent much of the year embroiled in disputes with former business partners, fellow countrymen and friends before British tribunals. In October, he lost one of the largest civil suits ever in U.K. courts to Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club Ltd.

In a separate suit, Berezovsky agreed to drop a four-year-old claim against the estate of his old business partner, Badri Patarkatsishvili, who died in 2008.

The case is: Joint Stock Company “Aeroflot-Russian Airlines” v. Boris Berezovsky & Anr, High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, HC12C00787.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hodges in London at jhodges17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Scinta at cscinta@bloomberg.net

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