The sale of the Russian state’s interest in a major oil company almost 20 years ago lies at the root of an intricate $2 billion dispute between three enormously wealthy businessmen which will be litigated in New York after a judge refused to block the proceedings.
The background to the dispute lay in a string of investment and acquisition deals, a promissory note and a lucrative joint venture entered into by a bewildering array of companies said to be controlled by various individuals following the disposal of the state asset in 1997.
Businessman A had launched proceedings in New York against businessmen B and C in respect of his claim to a $2 billion stake in the profits of a joint venture. They hotly disputed his claim and asked the High Court to stop the proceedings on the basis that businessman A was obliged to submit to arbitration of the dispute in London.
However, in refusing the application for an anti-suit injunction, the Court found that businessman A was ‘probably not bound’ by arbitration provisions contained within an acquisition agreement. The ruling opened the way for businessman A to pursue his complaint before the Supreme Court of New York.