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London court freezes assets of Ukrainian tycoons

Tatneft sued Ukranian billionaires for taking money in 2009

London court freezes assets of Ukrainian tycoons

One of Ukraine’s most powerful business tycoons is among four prominent businessmen facing a $380m worldwide freezing order that ties up property including his luxury French villa, months after he settled a multi-billion-pound claim in an unrelated case in British courts, Bloomberg reported

Ihor Kolomoiskiy and fellow billionaire Hennadiy Boholiubov are accused by Tatneft, a Russian oil company, of illegally seizing control of a refinery joint venture in Ukraine and siphoning hundreds of millions of dollars into their shell companies, according to documents filed at a London court. Two wealthy associates of the Ukrainians were named by state-controlled Tatneft in the suit that is seeking more than $334m from the men.

"This is a stale claim, concerning historic events," Ali Malek, Boholiubov’s lawyer, said in a London court Friday. "We submit there is a real possibility that the claim is time-barred."

The order signed by a London judge includes assets like a private jet, a boat and properties in England and France. Kolomoiskiy’s French villa, which sits on one hectare, and another 50 acres in the Haute Savoie region is part of the order.

Several of Boholiubov’s expensive London properties are subject to the order, including a house on Belgrave Square near the gates of Buckingham Palace worth over 4m pounds ($5.7m) according to property website Zoopla. The March 22 order permits the men to have as much as 5,000 pounds ($7,190) in weekly living expenses.

Tatneft confirmed the suit against the two men as well as Alexander Yaroslavsky and Pavel Ovcharenko. They are accused of fraudulently taking money in 2009 that the Tatneft was entitled to for oil shipped to the Kremenchug refinery, the company said in a statement. Ovcharenko didn’t have lawyers present at Friday’s court hearing.

Lawyers for Boholiubov and Kolomoiskiy didn’t immediately comment on the lawsuit. A spokesman for the Ukrtatnafta refinery, where Ovcharenko is the chief executive officer, declined to comment on his behalf. A spokesperson for Yaroslavsky declined to immediately comment.