Murder Allegations Dismissed in Ukrainian Billionaire's Lawsuit

  • Pinchuk suing Kolomoisky, Bogolyubov over sale of company
  • London judge says allegations not relevant to $2 billion suit

A London judge said allegations of murder and corruption that form the backdrop of a dispute between some of Ukraine’s richest men won’t play a role in a civil lawsuit filed by billionaire Victor Pinchuk over the sale of a company a decade ago.

Pinchuk is seeking about $2 billion from Gennady Bogolyubov and Igor Kolomoisky over his March 2005 purchase of Alcross Commercial Ltd. from the two men.

Lawyers for Pinchuk in court documents and statements to the judge Friday insinuated that Kolomoisky was connected to a range of crimes including the death of his own bodyguard, attacks on a Ukrainian attorney and bribing a prosecutor in the country to shut down a murder investigation.

But Judge Stephen Males said the allegations had no relevance to the civil trial, which is scheduled to start in January. Pinchuk’s lawyers can cross examine Kolomoisky on whether he did pay the bribes to close down an attempted murder probe, Males said.

Kolomoisky "strenuously denies" all the allegations, his lawyer, Laurence Rabinowitz, said in court. Pinchuk’s spokesman declined to comment on the judge’s decision after the ruling.

"Mr. Kolomoisky was well capable of looking after himself in the rough-and-tumble situation that existed in the Ukraine at that time," Judge Males said during the hearing.

London courts have regularly played host to disputes between wealthy eastern European businessmen over deals struck in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, often involving unsubstantiated allegations of violence, corruption and organized crime. In 2012, United Co. Rusal Chief Executive Officer Oleg Deripaska was accused by Michael Cherney in a $1 billion lawsuit of being involved in bribing a Russian governor, belonging to a criminal organization and ordering a murder. The case was later settled.

In the lawsuit, Pinchuk says that he discovered Alcross Commercial was a worthless shell company after he paid the two men $143 million. Pinchuk says Bogolyubov and Kolomoisky told him Alcross Commercial controlled Ukrainian ore-mining company Krivorozhskiy Zhelezorudnyy Kombinat, but never transferred the company to him.

Pinchuk is worth $1.6 billion according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Ukraine magazine Novoe Vremya said in October that Kolomoisky is worth $1.9 billion and Bogolyubov’s net worth as $1.8 billion.

The case is Victor Pinchuk v. Gennadiy Borisovich Bogolyubov & Anr in the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division case no CL-2013-000814

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.