Cherney Faces Travel Problems
Published: January 19, 2010 (Issue # 1540)
A woman walks past the company logos of United Company RusAl at a news conference in Hong Kong last week.
MOSCOW — Businessman Michael Cherney has been restricted from traveling abroad after an international warrant was issued for his arrest on accusations of money laundering and participating in organized crime.
Cherney, also known as Mikhail Chernoi, said the accusations were engineered by Oleg Deripaska, whom he is suing in London for a stake in United Company RusAl.
Information that an international warrant was issued for Cherney’s arrest was posted on Interpol’s web site, and the order was given by a Spanish court. The businessman has been implicated in a case involving the laundering of 4 million euros ($5.8 million) through the “Russian mafia.”
The Spanish court issued the order for his arrest in May, and Spanish prosecutors asked their British counterparts to arrest and extradite Cherney from London to Spain. But British authorities released him after interrogation, El Mundo newspaper reported. In October, the newspaper reported that Spanish police were interested in Deripaska’s possible connection to the case.
“Why are you just now deciding to write that there’s an international warrant out for me? I’ve been on the Interpol list since summer because of the Spanish case,” Cherney said, adding that it was probably representatives of Deripaska who alerted reporters to the warrant in order to distract the media from another issue.
On Jan. 13, a Tel Aviv court passed down a ruling in a suit brought by Cherney against several Israeli citizens who, according to Cherney, falsified data for the investigation in Spain.
“One of the defendants admitted that Deripaska himself ordered the collection of information that was the basis for the criminal case against me in Spain,” Cherney said. “But Deripaska dug himself into a hole — in the course of the case, the Spanish prosecutor accused Deripaska of the same thing as me! The Spaniards think that we’re both bosses in the Izmailovsky gang but that I’m higher up, and that with the advance Deripaska gave me for part of RusAl I bought some real estate in Spain and, in doing so, laundered the money. I’m sure the next warrant will be issued for Deripaska.”
A Deripaska representative dismissed the notion that there was any connection between Deripaska and Cherney’s problems. “Deripaska doesn’t have, never had and cannot have any relationship with him,” the representative said. “His statement about Deripaska’s connection to illegal data collection is also false and absurd.”
Representatives of the Spanish court and prosecutor’s office did not respond to a Vedomosti request for comment.
Cherney said the fact that there is a warrant out for his arrest and that he has been forced to stay in Israel won’t interfere with his suit against Deripaska in London.
Lawyers, on the whole, agree. If Cherney goes to London, he could be arrested, but Cherney’s lawyers could petition the court to allow him to testify via video link, said Valery Tutykhin, a partner at John Tiner & Partners.
A staff member at the London High Court said cases using teleconferencing were relatively common, but it is up to the judge as to whether it will be allowed. Requests for video links are sometimes denied, but the threat of arrest could count as a good enough reason to justify such a measure, said Sergei Sokolov, a partner at Marks & Sokolov.
Cherney is seeking $3 billion in compensation from Deripaska for a stake in RusAl that he sold in 2001.