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Sheikh Aids Berezovsky, Abramovich

Published: May 14, 2010 (Issue # 1573)



  • Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa al Nahyan, left, brokered two deals between Abramovich, center, and Berezovsky, right.
    Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

MOSCOW The children of royal families have different ways of earning a living.

Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, for example, brokered two deals between Roman Abramovich and Boris Berezovsky, possibly earning a commission of $260 million, Vedomosti has learned.

Information on deals between the Russian billionaires appeared in a recent ruling by the High Court of London in a lawsuit Berezovsky filed against Abramovich. Sheikh Sultan took part in two transactions between Berezovsky and Abramovich totaling $1.475 billion, according to a verdict by the judge, Anthony Coleman.

In 2001, a company controlled by Sheikh Sultan mediated a deal in which Berezovsky and Badri Patarkatsishvili, now deceased, sold a stake in the ORT television channel to firms controlled by Abramovich for $175 million.

Another deal, also reached in 2001, concerned a $1.3 billion transaction. Berezovsky claimed that the funds were Abramovichs payment for 45.3 percent of oil company Sibneft. Abramovich insisted that Berezovsky and Patarkatsishvili had no stake in Sibneft and that the $1.3 billion was compensation for their help in privatizing the company.

Berezovsky said he sold a beneficiary stake in Sibneft to Devonia Investments Ltd. Sheikh Sultan acted as a guarantor for the deal: He paid Berezovsky and Patarkatsishvili himself before selling the assets to Abramovich.

Sheikh Sultan, 45, belongs to the royal family that has ruled Abu Dhabi for almost 250 years. His grandfather, Sheikh Zayed, was the founder of the United Arab Emirates and the first president of the federation. Sheikh Sultans father, Sheikh Khalifa, the eldest of Zayeds 19 sons, had to wait for 37 years before finally becoming king of Abu Dhabi and president of the country in 2004. Last year, Forbes magazine estimated his net worth at $18 billion.

Sheikh Sultan has a degree in international studies and is a graduate of several colleges, including the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and the University of Salford.

He is a member of the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi and heads a number of nonprofit organizations in the U.A.E., including the Emirates Equestrian Federation.

How exactly Sheikh Sultan met the two Russian businessmen is unknown. Spokespeople for Berezovsky and Abramovich refused to comment, and requests sent by Vedomosti to the U.A.E. presidential administration, the U.A.E. Embassy in Moscow and the Emirates Equestrian Federation went unanswered.

Berezovsky said Sheikh Sultans mediation was necessary to hide the fact that Abramovich was the final buyer of Sibneft.

Abramovichs representatives gave an alternative explanation: According to court documents, the former Chukotka governor only learned about the deal between Berezovsky and Devonia in 2007, after court proceedings were opened in London. Sheikh Sultans involvement seems to have been needed to circumvent the English banking laws on money laundering, which required the payment to be registered as a real transaction, representatives of Abramovich were cited as saying in the court papers.

Sheikh Sultan received a 20 percent commission for his involvement in the $1.3 billion deal with Berezovsky, Abramovichs lawyers said. This means that the Arab prince may have earned $260 million. Representatives of Berezovsky did not comment on the size of the commission, and Abramovichs lawyers refused to reveal their sources of information.

Experts were not surprised to learn of a third party taking part in the deals. It is common for citizens of the U.A.E. and other countries to be asked to serve the interests of unnamed beneficiaries, said Dmitry Klyonov, a partner at UFG Wealth Management,. He added that the rank of the intermediaries depends on the size of the deal: The bigger it is, the higher the status of the parties involved.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of todays seminar is Grammar Practice.


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at Professional Growth, a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmChams Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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