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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Oligarchs Take Spat to the Streets of London

VedomostiAbramovich and Berezovsky pictured together in the State Duma in 2000.
Self-exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky burst into a chic London luxury goods store and served Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich with a high court writ, Berezovsky said Monday.

Berezovsky claims that in 2000 Abramovich forced him to sell his stakes in Sibneft, Russian Aluminum and television channel ORT for well below their market value, and that Abramovich owes him up to ?5 billion ($10 billion).

"Independent experts have established that the market value of my shares was almost 10 times higher," Berezovsky said by telephone from London.

Berezovsky said he was leaving the Dolce & Gabbana store on Sloane Street in the posh Knightsbridge area of London on Friday afternoon when his driver signaled that Abramovich was inside the Hermes store, two doors away.

Berezovsky instructed his bodyguard to fetch the writ from his car, parked not far away on Sloane Street, he said. Berezovsky's bodyguards then tried to enter the Hermes store but were blocked by Abramovich's security entourage.

"That is illegal, it is not Abramovich's shop," Berezovsky said.

He said he managed to get past the scuffling bodyguards and entered the store. He handed the writ to Abramovich, who stepped back, allowing the document to fall to the floor.

Berezovsky's account of the incident could not be independently verified, however, and Abramovich spokesman John Mann refused to comment.

Employees at the Hermes store refused to comment on the incident and people at a dozen other establishments nearby either refused to comment or said they did not witness the scene.

From Berezovsky's account, it is not clear whether the writ has been legally served, said James Hargrove, an associate lawyer at Hogan & Hartson in London. "It cannot be discounted that one party could claim it has been served and the other [could claim] that it has not," Hargrove said.

Berezovsky says it has, and the matter is now with his lawyers, who will seek to study the store's closed-circuit television footage.

The existence of the writ could not be immediately confirmed Monday with the High Court, although a person at the court, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Berezovsky had taken out a writ jointly against the All-Russian State Television and Radio Company, the owner of ORT, now known as Channel One, and one Vladimir Terlyuk, in May. He would not give details.

Berezovsky said he had been chasing Abramovich around Britain for the last six months to hand him the writ.

"I even flew to Manchester United for the game against Chelsea when [Carlos] Tevez scored the winning goal," Berezovsky said, adding that his path to Abramovich at Manchester's Old Trafford stadium was blocked by security guards.

In 2005, Berezovsky said he and his business partner Badri Patarkatsishvili made nearly $1 billion each from the sale of their joint stakes in Sibneft, Russian Aluminum and ORT, but that it was a fraction of their real worth.

He complained that Abramovich threatened to take the stakes away by force, with President Vladimir Putin's backing, if Berezovsky and Patarkatsishvili didn't sell at knockdown prices.

Though sworn enemies now, Berezovsky and Abramovich used to be business partners. In 1995, during the controversial loans-for-shares auctions that were widely viewed as rigged, the two acquired Sibneft for a meager $100 million. By the time it was sold to Gazprom Neft in 2005, Sibneft was worth close to $16 billion.