Elena Baturina, one of Russia’s wealthiest women, can’t sue a former business partner in the U.K. over a Moroccan property deal, according to a London judge who said the dispute should be heard in her home country.
“The links with Russia are overwhelming,” said Judge Paul Walker, even though he accepted that she was anxious about returning after being criticized by state media. Her husband Yury Luzhkov was fired as Moscow mayor in 2010.
Baturina, who lives in London and made a fortune of more than $1 billion in plastics and real estate, sued Alexander Chistyakov, saying the Russian businessman owes her about 98 million euros because he misled her over a Moroccan development.
“I accept that if she returns there is an increased risk of media interest, which she would find unwelcome,” Walker said today in a written decision. “That, however, is something which must be borne with a degree of stoicism by those who, like Ms. Baturina, have a high public profile.”
Michelle Duncan, a lawyer for Baturina with Paul Hastings LLP, said she would appeal the ruling, calling it “fatally flawed.” Nick Cherryman, a partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP who represented Chistyakov, said his client was vindicated and that “the proceedings in England should never have been brought.”
Baturina’s husband was fired during a political spat with then-President Dmitry Medvedev. She now owns hotels around Europe, including the Morrison in Dublin.
In December 2011, Baturina sold ZAO Inteco, one of Russia’s largest development companies, to a partnership that included Russian developer and Binbank President Mikail Shishkhanov, and a business unit of OAO Sberbank. Inteco’s offices had been raided earlier that year by Moscow police investigating corruption accusations.
The case is Elena Baturina v. Alexander Chistyakov, High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Commercial Court, 13-96.