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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

Thursday, Sept. 18


Get your nerd on at Boomfest, St. Petersburgs answer to the United States popular ComicCon. Starting today, this international festival of comics will take over venues throughout the city center and includes exhibitions of comics and illustrations, film screenings, competitions and the chance to meet the genres authors, artists and experts.



Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBAs newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is Handmade in Germany, an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during todays Djembe and Vuvuzela, a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of todays round table discussion on Interaction with Trade Unions being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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