Tag: Michael Cherney
According to a ruling by a court in Switzerland, Israel businessman Michael Cherney will be financially compensated in the amount of 30,000 Swiss francs for moral damages to him and his family caused by an investigation which dragged from 1996 through 2007. The probe was related to Cherney’s suspected links to the “Russian Mafia” and started in November 1996 when Michael Cherney was detained for four days upon his entry to Geneva. This was followed by a decade-long investigation, which resulted in Swiss High Federal Court’s verdict in 2008 exonerating Cherney from all the charges.
After the Swiss court’s 2008 ruling that Cherney was not linked to organized crime, he decided to sue for moral damages.
According to the Canton of Geneva law, this compensation could not exceed the amount of 10,000 francs. Exceptions are made in cases where courts discern “special circumstances”.
According to the court’s latest verdict, this was the case with Michael Cherney, especially since the investigation had unduly dragged out for eleven years. As a result, Cherney was awarded a compensation of 30,000 Swiss francs which is three times the standard amount.
Last January a Tel Aviv, Israel court found that an illegal campaign to discredit Michael Cherney had been managed at the order of Russia citizen Alexei Drobashenko, formerly the public relations director for Base Element, a financial and industrial group belonging to Oleg Deripaska. Cherney and Deripaska are former partners in aluminum business.
Currently Cherney’s multi-million dollar suit against Deripaska is now being considered by a London court.
Following his repatriation to Israel, Michael Cherney has maintained business interests in Russia and post-Soviet states, while developing new business contacts between Russia, Europe, Israel, and the US.
In Israel, Michael Cherney spends much effort on charity and humanitarian projects that reinforce cooperation between Israel and Russia in fighting terrorism.
Michael Cherney established a Website for his Foundation on June 1, 2001, the night of the terrorist bombing outside the Dolphinarium Disco in Tel Aviv. When Michael Cherney learned that the number of victims were 21 dead and over 150 wounded, he realized that rendering assistance required a systematic organized effort.
Prior to 2001, Cherney was engaged in charity work in Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia, Bulgaria, the US – wherever he did business. He made valuable contributions into Jewish philanthropy in Russia. Following the Dolphinarium terrorist tragedy, the Cherney Fund became the helping hand for all its victims. In a misfortune like this, emigres from the former Soviet countries are even worse off than those born in Israel: they don’t have a support system or savings.
The Cherney Fund renders help mostly to the new arrivals, victims of catastrophes and terrorist acts that continue to bleed Israel, as well as to the low-income victims of terror in other countries. Another equally important task assumed by the Cherney Foundation is the media effort in war on terror. Shortly after the Dolphinarium attack, the Foundation published a book called Dolphinarium: Terror Targets the Young.
The Michael Cherney Foundation has established grants for students from the former Soviet Union in all major Israel universities with an annual endowment of 1 million shekels.
Mr. Cherney and his family live in a suburb of Tel Aviv.
Deripaska has confirmed the interrogation took place over several hours in a Moscow office on Wednesday. He says he was a friendly witness, with no connection to the criminal activities that are being probed. The spokesman for the Spanish prosecutor and Madrid court records suggest otherwise.
It is the first time in his career Deripaska has faced questioning on his business practices and cash flows by a western judge in a criminal court proceeding. The Spanish interrogation was the first of its kind.
Spanish Judge Fernando Andreu Merelles and special prosecutor José Grinda were in Moscow on Wednesday to interrogate Deripaska, their spokesman confirmed in Madrid.
The spokesman said they sought to “take statements from Deripaska for an offence of conspiracy and money laundering, as well”.
Deripaska had refused to go to Spain, so the questioning took place in Moscow.
Court orders signed by Andreu in April last year show the Spanish investigation has requested thousands of pages of evidence compiled in the British High Court case of Cherney vs Deripaska, presided over by Judge Christopher Clarke.
In that case, Michael Cherney is suing Deripaska for enforcement of contracts they signed in March 2001, according to which Deripaska owes Cherney a 13% stake in Rusal, the Russian aluminium monopoly Deripaska controls, which is registered in Jersey.
In the new proceedings, the Spanish court has identified Cherney as one of Deripaska’s partners and alleged co-conspirator. In the London court and in the press, Deripaska has adamantly denied that he was Cherney’s partner, or that he owes him shares or money.
Clarke has ruled that Cherney’s claim has “a reasonable prospect of success”.
The first conference of lawyers for Cherney and Deripaska before the judge is scheduled for this month.
Both Deripaska and Rusal assured the Hong Kong market in the Rusal prospectus that there was no truth to allegations that he came by his assets less than honestly, by defrauding others or as a result of racketeering.
He has publicly condemned Cherney’s claims as “blackmail”. Rather, he has argued in the British High Court, that Cherney and his associates were a gang of extortionists, seeking protection money from Deripaska’s lawful business cash flow.
In the Rusal prospectus, posted on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange website on December 31, there is no reference to the Spanish criminal proceedings, although the court papers reveal these had been in a Madrid criminal court for at least nine months before.
In January, on the day before Rusal started selling shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the Financial Times of London published an investigation, suggesting that there were amicable social and business relations between Deripaska, Sergei Popov and Andrei Malevsky.
Allegedly, they were members of organised criminal groups in Russia, Malevsky of the so-called Izmailovo gang, and Popov of the so-called Podolsk gang — the names refer to towns in the Moscow area.
Malevsky was killed while parachuting in SA in 2001, which police said was an accident. His widow is testifying against Deripaska in the London court case.
Popov told the Financial Times he had considered himself and Deripaska good friends until Deripaska and his witnesses reported to the London court that he was a gangster.
“He (Popov) and associates say”, the Financial Times reported, “he is godfather to Mr Deripaska’s daughter. Denying any contacts with organised crime, he says he and Mr Deripaska were introduced to each other in 1994 by Mr Cherney and the business relationship flowered.”
According to the El Mundo report this week, the judicial probe is part of “Operation Wasp, the first big investigation against the Russian mafia in Spain. Deripaska and his former associates (are being investigated on suspicion of being) part of or collaborators with the Izmaylovskaya (gang), one of the Russian mafias.”
The extent of the Madrid investigation and the range of its targets is not clear yet.
According to the official dossier titled Preliminary Inquiries 101/2007D in examining court number four of the Central Criminal Court in Madrid, Andreu has signed rulings which spell out the details of the alleged conspiracy. Dated April 22 last year, the documents show that special prosecutor Grinda had reported to the court on evidence and allegations gathered against 13 individuals; “Deripaska and Cherney are on this list”.
A report by Grinda dated April 2007 shows the target of the judge’s inquiry was to clarify the activities of an alleged criminal organisation called “Izmailovskaya”, or “Izmailovskye”, in Spain. The latter had allegedly “used several companies domiciled in Spain and in several tax havens to launder money obtained from criminal activities allowing its leaders to presently hold and keep companies of a substantial economic magnitude which are the result of laundering those monies”.
Moscow newspaper Kommersant reported Deripaska had been questioned for several hours by the Spanish team on Wednesday.
Deripaska’s spokesman said “the conversation touched upon a number of Russian and Spanish companies and individuals”. After learning “a few months ago” that his name had been mentioned in the Spanish case Deripaska “appealed to the prosecutor general of Russia in order to clarify the situation”.
The timing is awkward for Deripaska, who is the most powerful Russian businessman in Africa.
Guinean Mines Minister Mahmoud Thiam is putting pressure on Deripaska’s company, United Company Rusal, to make good on its concession agreements to mine bauxite and refine alumina in the country, or see them offered to other bidders. Rusal denies the obligations and wants international arbitration.
In Hong Kong, where Rusal became the first Russian company to be allowed to trade its shares, starting on January 27, there was strong investor resistance to a second attempt last week by Deripaska to list his molybdenum mining company, Strikeforce Mining and Resources.
The initial public offering was withdrawn after the underwriters said market conditions were unfavourable. Local fund sources said the Strikeforce offer lacked the Kremlin’s backing, which Rusal had.
The timing is awkward for Deripaska, who is the most powerful Russian businessman in Africa.