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Berezovsky Estate May Owe Up To $483 Million, Lawyer Says

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- The estate of Boris Berezovsky, who died in March, may be in debt by as much as 309 million pounds ($483 million), a lawyer said.

The debts could include 720 million rubles ($21.6 million) to OAO Aeroflot, 100 million pounds to U.K. tax authorities and a 3 million pound claim from the son of former Kyrgyzstan leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev, Philip Marshall, a lawyer for the Moscow-based airline, said at a hearing today.

“The information from the receivers points to insolvency,” Judge Paul Morgan said at the hearing.

An autopsy found that Berezovsky died from hanging with no evidence of a violent struggle, according to London police. Once a multibillionaire, he faced mounting debt. He lost one of the largest U.K. civil lawsuits ever filed against Roman Abramovich, the Russian owner of the Chelsea Football Club, last year. Berezovsky was “unimpressive and inherently unreliable,” the judge said in her ruling in August.

Berezovsky’s daughter won the right to be an administrator of her father’s estate in relation to current litigation and to oversee personal matters, Judge Morgan ruled today. Grant Thornton LLP will remain as receivers to the estate to continue asset tracing and dealing with creditors, he said.

Not bankrupt

The estate is not bankrupt, Ekaterina Berezovskaya’s lawyer, Anthony Trace, said.

“You say it’s overwhelmingly likely this is insolvency, we say the reverse,” said Trace, Ekaterina Berezovskaya’s lawyer. “Your lordship cannot make a judgment one way or another whether the estate is insolvent.”

Grant Thornton was accused of handing confidential information to Aeroflot and not carrying out their duties properly by lawyers for Berezovskaya during the hearing.

“The receivers are independent of Aeroflot, the Russian state or anybody else,” Stephen Atherton, a lawyer representing Grant Thornton, said in court. “The criticisms leveled at the receivers are quite unwarranted,” we “are willing and able to assist in any capacity.”

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

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

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