* Court clears Vekselberg of violating disclosure rules
* Vekselberg was facing record fine of up to 40 mln Sfr
* Vekselberg owns controlling stake in Swiss group Oerlikon
(Adds details, background)
ZURICH, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg will not have to pay a record fine of 40 million Swiss francs after a Swiss court cleared him of violating disclosure rules when he built up his stake in Oerlikon (OERL.S)
Switzerland’s Federal Department of Finance (FDF) accused Vekselberg of not declaring that he was acting as part of a group with Austrian investor holding company Victory when he bought shares in the Swiss technology group from Victory in 2006.
“The evidence presented by the FDF is for the most part explicable as normal business dealings without there having been a secret understanding between the named shareholders,” the Swiss Federal Criminal Court said on Thursday.
A spokesman for the FDF said it had taken note of the court’s acquittal and that the finance ministry would decide on how to proceed with the case once it had received the court’s decision in writing.
The FDF can still appeal to the Swiss Federal Court.
“With the acquittal of Victor Vekselberg by the Swiss Federal Criminal Court, Renova Group considers its position confirmed,” Renova, Vekselberg’s investment vehicle, said in a statement.
In addition to his major stake in Oerlikon, which makes a range of products from coatings used in Formula One racing cars to machines used to make solar cells, Vekselberg also holds a controlling stake in Swiss engineering group Sulzer (SUN.S).
Swiss authorities are also looking into whether Vekselberg, who made his fortune in the aluminium and oil sectors, violated disclosure rules when he amassed his stake in Sulzer by not registering his stakes when crossing certain thresholds. (Reporting by Katie Reid and Oliver Hirt; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)