MOSCOW, February 5 (RAPSI/RIA Novosti) – A Russian oligarch and senator is seeking $2 billion in New York from the sale of TNK-BP, according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by RAPSI legal news service.
Leonid Lebedev claims he was owed money from the sale of the British-Russian oil company via a stake he held in its Russian part.
According to the document filed Tuesday in New York’s Supreme Court, Lebedev acquired a 15-percent stake in the Tyumen Oil Company (TNK) during Russia’s privatization process in the 1990s.
A consortium of four Russian oligarchs known as AAR, which had a controlling stake in the company, struck a deal in 2003 to merge their assets with British oil major BP’s operations in Russia, resulting in the formation of TNK-BP.
TNK-BP was bought by state-controlled Russian oil giant Rosneft last year after being plagued by a high-profile shareholder dispute between the Russian and British sides. The AAR consortium received $27.73 billion from the deal, of which Lebedev claims he received nothing. The businessman, who is also a member of the upper house of the Russian parliament, is now seeking damages of not less than $2 billion.
According to the Prime news agency, a source close to Lebedev has said that at the time of the sale of TNK-BP, Lebedev owned 7.5 percent of the AAR consortium, which owned half of TNK-BP, making Lebedev’s indirect stake in the company 3.75 percent.
According to the document, the lawsuit was filed in New York because it was there that the two defendants, AAR members Leonard Blavatnik and Viktor Vekselberg, met with Lebedev several times in 2001 and signed a cooperation agreement with him that allegedly granted him a stake in TNK’s profits.
Due to the complexity of the case opening arguments will likely not begin until next year, analysts say.