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Ukrainian oligarchs settle $2-billion dispute days before London court hearing
January 22, 2016 / 11:00 PM / 2 years ago

Ukrainian oligarchs settle $2-billion dispute days before London court hearing

Igor Kolomoisky, billionaire and governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region speaks during an interview in Dnipropetrovsk May 24, 2014.Valentyn Ogirenko

LONDON (Reuters) - A $2 billion (1 billion pounds) legal dispute in London over ownership of a Ukrainian iron ore factory involving three of Ukraine's richest men was settled out of court on Friday, a spokesman for one of the oligarchs said.

The lawsuit pitted Victor Pinchuk, a billionaire industrialist, against Gennadiy Bogolyubov and Ihor Kolomoisky, co-owners of Privatbank, Ukraine's largest bank.

The case had been bogged down in legal debate and the hearing had been due to open in the London High Court on Monday.

Pinchuk had been seeking approximately $2 billion in damages from his opponents, spokesman William Clutterbuck said.

"This case has just settled," Pinchuk's spokesman, William Clutterbuck, said in a statement emailed to media. He did not provide any details of the settlement.

A lawyer representing Bogolyubov and Kolomoisky did not immediately respond to a call from Reuters requesting comment.

Pinchuk alleged in the suit that Bogolyubov and Kolomoisky had failed to hand over an iron ore factory in the city of Krivy Rih which he said he had paid $143 million to acquire.

He also alleged they had later sold half of the business to steel mogul Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine's richest man. Bogolyubov and Kolomoisky disputed the claims.

PHOTOS WITH THE CLINTONS

Pinchuk, Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov are Ukraine's second, third and fourth richest men, with fortunes ranging from $1.5 billion to $1.3 billion, according to the latest figures from Forbes Ukraine.

London has attracted other lawsuits involving oligarchs. In one high-profile case, Chelsea Football Club's Russian owner Roman Abramovich won a $6-billion battle against former mentor Boris Berezovsky in 2012.

Pinchuk's business interests range from pipes and metals to media and he has supported several philanthropic works in Ukraine. Kolomoisky, with interests in energy, aviation and metals as well as banking, has made headlines in Ukraine for very public disputes with the current government.

Pinchuk has a website dedicated to the lawsuit, with details of his claim and photos, including one where he appears with former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and another where he is seen introducing a speech by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clutterbuck said the lawsuit was brought in London because Bogolyubov is based at a home in exclusive Belgrave Square in the upmarket area of Belgravia near Buckingham Palace. This could not immediately be verified from another source.

According to British media reports, Pinchuk bought a house in 2008 in Kensington, another exclusive London district, for 80 million pounds ($115 million), a record at the time.

The house is reported to boast an underground swimming pool, gym, sauna and cinema, and to house a fine collection of contemporary art amassed by Pinchuk.

While governor of the industrial Dnipropetrovsk region, Kolomoisky took firm action against pro-Russian separatism, arming and financing local militia groups and volunteer battalions. But he ran foul of the pro-Western authorities when armed men who lawmakers said were linked to him raided a state-owned oil firm in March last year.

($1 = 0.6977 pounds)

Additional reporting by Alessandra Prentice and Pavel Polityuk in Kiev; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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