Russian billionaire Vitaly Orlov has lost an attempt to keep a $350m (£270m) worldwide freezing order (WFO) against him secret amid an ongoing dispute with his former business partner over a stake in Russia's largest fishing company.
Fellow billionaire Alexander Tugushev is locked in a dispute with Orlov over claims he refuses to recognise his one-third ownership of Norebo, which is valued and more than £1.5bn and made Orlov rich.
Orlov has disputed the existence of an agreement between the pair.
Last month, Tugushev secured a £270m freezing order against Orlov in the High Court.
Orlov wanted to block Tugushev from notifying relevant third parties of the freezing order unless he had secured his permission or that of the court, saying the absence of such a condition would amount to self-incrimination. Tugushev argued this would render the WFO ineffective.
However, a judge today overturned an earlier decision by the High Court and refused Orlov's amendment.
Mr Justice Teare ruled: "I consider that the general position that it is usually appropriate to assist a claimant in prompt enforcement of a worldwide freezing order applies in this case."
Tugushev said: “The High Court’s decision marks another positive step in my battle to regain the shares in the Norebo Group that were illegally taken from me. I am very proud of what was achieved during my 17 years with the Norebo Group, and refuse to be deprived of these achievements by Mr Orlov. I will continue to fight for my interest in the company and right the wrongs perpetrated by my former business partner.”
Orlov has also claimed privilege – a mechanism which keeps communication between lawyer and client confidential – on the grounds that he is the subject of a criminal investigation in Russia.
He also plans to challenge the jurisdiction of the UK courts. Norebo Europe is a registered company in the UK.
A spokesperson for Orlov said:
To describe this as a significant legal victory is absurd. It was a hearing mainly to clarify an earlier judgment – which the judge recognised was open to interpretation. The remainder of the hearing related to timetabling issues. Someone has attempted to dress up day-to-day administrative business of the courts with inaccurate and unjustified hyperbole. This hearing represented an early step in Mr Orlov’s challenge to the jurisdiction of the English courts and the continuation of the freezing order, challenges which he intends to pursue vigorously.