A High Court Judge has halted a $4.2bn fraud trial after claiming it would be unfair to force two of Ukraine’s richest men to fight the court battle due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The High Court Judge adjourned the court battle between Ukraine’s biggest bank, Privatbank, and Ukrainian billionaires Gennadiy Bogolyubov and Ihor Kolomoisky, as he agreed with the argument that the war in Ukraine would prevent the two billionaires from preparing for their trial.
The judge said current laws banning males between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving Ukraine may lead to issues in trying the two Ukrainian billionaires, as he said that while both men could in theory tune in remotely, they could also face difficulties in establishing a stable internet connection.
The case comes as both Bogolyubov and Kolomoisky are accused of siphoning billions out of Ukraine’s largest bank, after the duo founded the bank in 1992.
The trial comes after the US government banned Kolomoisky from entering the US over claims the oligarch had used his “political influence” as the former governor of Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk Oblast for his own personal benefit.
In the past, Russian president Vladimir Putin has also branded Kolomoisky a “crook” amid claims the Ukrainian business tycoon “scammed” Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich in a multi-billion-dollar business deal.
In arguing that Kolomoisky would be unable to fight his case, the oligarch’s lawyers claimed he is “currently engaged in active civic duties to assist with the war effort,” as they claimed the 59-year-old could be drafted into the war at any time.
Meanwhile, Bogolyubov’s legal team said their client had said: “”I would ask the judge to take into consideration whether in such a time it is better for me to be spending my time and energy with lawyers preparing for a hearing that may not happen; or to assist my people prepared to defend their country?”
In adjourning the case for a year, the judge said the two men should have no excuses for not having prepared their case by June 2023, as he suggested that by then, the duo should have “made detailed arrangements to mitigate against the risks of the need for any further delay”.
International law firm Fieldfisher is acting on behalf of Kolomoisky while London disputes specialist Enyo Law is acting on behalf of Bogolyubov.