German judge backs Russian tycoon over US media giant
The District Court of Hamburg in Germany has banned Forbes magazine from disseminating statements to the effect that Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov “fronted for” President Vladimir Putin and “solved his business problems,” RBK reported on Tuesday.
According to the ruling seen by the business daily, Forbes failed to substantiate the information presented in its article titled ‘Meet Putin’s Oligarchs Most Likely To Get Slapped With Sanctions By Biden Over Ukraine’, published on February 2, 2022.
The court ruled that the claims made by Forbes were untrue and defamatory, given that the magazine refused to disclose the anonymous “expert” source to whom the disputed statement was attributed.
According to Usmanov’s attorneys, the unsupported claims made in the text of the article ended up being cited verbatim by the EU as justification for introducing sanctions against the billionaire in February 2022.
The ruling marks the second milestone victory for Usmanov after a Hamburg regional court sided with him in a dispute with the Austrian newspaper Kurier in August 2023 over a claim the outlet made that Usmanov was “one of Putin’s favorite oligarchs.” The statement was also found to be defamatory.
In November, a German regional court in Frankfurt ruled that the retention of documents and property belonging to Usmanov seized in a raid in 2022 was illegal, and ordered the Office of the Federal Prosecutor to return them to the sanctioned businessman.
Usmanov holds a major stake in USM, a Russian investment group with holdings in Metalloinvest, one of the world’s largest iron ore producers, and telecom company MegaFon. Usmanov’s net worth reportedly totals $14.4 billion. The 70-year-old was placed under UK, EU, and US sanctions shortly after the beginning of the Ukraine conflict.
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