Judgment given against Russian firm in €2bn conspiracy case

Counsel acknowledges difficulty enforcing the judgment of the Irish court in Russia

The High Court has given judgment against one of a number of Russian companies in a €2 billion alleged conspiracy-to-defraud case involving a Dublin-registered firm and a Russian billionaire who allegedly controls it.

Mr Justice Denis McDonald gave judgment against Aktum LLC, with offices in Presnenskaya Naberezhnaya, Moscow, and in Perm City, both in Russia, for conspiracy to defraud four Caribbean-registered firms of their shares in Russian ammonia-producing company TogliattiAzot (ToAZ). Damages will be determined later.

The four plaintiff companies – Trafalgar Developments, Instantania Holdings, Kamara and Bairiki Inc – sued EU-sanctioned Russian oligarch Dmitry Mazepin, another Russian ammonia producer United Chemical Company Uralchem (UCCU), which Mr Mazepin controls, as well as UCCU itself and a number of other companies and individuals.

Among those other companies is Eurotoaz, a Dublin-registered firm, also allegedly controlled by Mr Mazepin, which allegedly engaged in a campaign of vexatious and false litigation in Russia to deprive the plaintiff companies of their shareholding in ToAZ.

It is claimed they were all part of a conspiracy to defraud the plaintiffs through illegal and corrupt actions.

Earlier this year, the court joined Aktum LLC as a defendant in the action along with another Russian company, JSC Khimaktninvest (Kai). It is claimed against both these companies that following an auction of the ToAZ shares, one or both of them received some of the shares.

Jurisdiction

Kai notified the court it intended to challenge the jurisdiction of the Irish court to hear the case against it, while Aktum failed to put in an appearance in defence.

As a result, on Thursday, Mr Justice McDonald granted an application for judgment in default of an appearance against Aktum following an application from Alison Keirse, for the plaintiffs.

Ms Keirse said while it was not known what became of the shares, the assumption is that, because there was a conspiracy, the “spoils” will be divided up between the various defendants.

The judge said he would give judgment for unjust enrichment in the conspiracy case, with damages to be assessed in due course. He also granted an injunction preventing Aktum from interfering with the plaintiffs’ rights.

The judge also asked Ms Keirse about the utility of the orders he was making and “how they will ever be enforced”. Counsel acknowledged there would be difficulty enforcing the orders in the Russian Federation but “one could not be certain of what the outcome could be”.

She said the full extent of Aktum’s assets is not known but there is evidence it acted in concert with the UCCU company which is a very well-resourced organisation that also moves its assets outside Russia.