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5 Sep, 2007 10:06

Berezovsky up to the neck in cases: in Russia, Ukraine, and Brazil

Russia's self-exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky is now involved in legal cases in Russia, Ukraine and Brazil. Unlike in Russia and Brazil, where he is wanted on fraud and money laundering charges, in Ukraine he is the claimant.

Two Ukrainian parliamentarians are receiving subpoenas from the High Court of England and Wales, on a lawsuit filed by Boris Berezovsky, who is accusing them of misusing the money he says he allocated for the Orange Revolution in 2004.

Berezovsky is suing them for nearly $US 23 MLN.

The businessmen, Oleksandr Tretyakov and David Zhvaniya, are members of the pro-presidential Our Ukraine – People's Self-Defence bloc. The Russian tycoon is demanding they return his money which was not spent on what he called “the development of democracy” in the country.

Another member of the Our Ukraine – People's Self-Defence bloc, Deputy Minister of Justice, Inna Bogoslovskaya, thinks Berezovsky is trying to undermine the popularity of the bloc. “It looks like Berezovsky has decided to lower the rating of Our Ukraine – since, according to open sources, he is already sponsoring Yulia Timoshenko and her bloc”, she claims.

Meanwhile, a trial has started in Moscow against Boris Berezovsky on fraud charges.

He is accused of embezzling over 214 MLN roubles or $US 8.5 MLN from the national airline Aeroflot in the mid-90s.

Prosecutors say the money went through two Swiss-based companies – Andava and Forus, reportedly co-founded by Berezovsky to service the airline's hard-currency proceeds.

Four people, including Berezovsky, were accused of money laundering and not returning earnings from abroad to Russia. Three of them received two-year suspended sentences.

Boris Berezovsky could receive up to ten years in prison. He and his lawyers are boycotting the process, calling it political blackmail.

Meanwhile, Brazil also suspects Boris Berezovsky of money laundering through Sao-Paolo's Corinthians football club.

In July, a city court issued an arrest warrant for the oligarch and his associates. On Tuesday, police searched its headquarters and confiscated financial documents and computers. Berezovsky denies any involvement.

The self-exiled tycoon has been living in the UK since 2001, when he received political asylum there. Russia has repeatedly asked Great Britain to extradite Berezovsky, but none of the requests has been satisfied.