One of the UK’s largest High Court claims in history is set to return to court next week as the trial commences in Privatbank’s $1.9bn (£1.54bn) fraud lawsuit against its former owners.
Ukrainian lender Privatbank is suing the bank’s founders Igor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Bogolyubov over allegations they embezzled billions of dollars from the bank through fraudulent loans to companies that were ultimately controlled by them. The pair deny the allegations.
The bank, which was nationalised in 2016, is seeking $1.9bn plus interest, which could run into the billions.
The lawsuit was filed in the London High Court back in December 2017, and was able to be heard in the UK because some of the companies allegedly involved in misappropriating funds are UK corporate entities.
The case was set to go to trial in June last year, but a High Court judge decided it should be postponed by a year after Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov argued it would be unfair to force them to fight the claim following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The trial is now set to take place on June 12 and scheduled to run for 15 weeks.
However, both Kolomoisky or Bogolyubov will not be giving evidence during the trial.
Richard Lewis, a partner at law firm Hogan Lovells, which is representing the bank, said: “The bank has throughout had confidence in the strength of its claims and that it will succeed in proving that it was the victim of fraud on a massive scale.”
Lewis added that “the bank’s confidence in its position has only been strengthened by the recent decisions of Mr Kolomoisky and Mr Bogolyubov not to be cross-examined at trial, nor to put forward any other witnesses to try to explain away the fraud alleged.”
Kolomoisky’s lawyer, Andrew Lafferty, said he “firmly denies any wrongdoing”.
“The claim forms part of a politically motivated campaign against him that commenced with the wrongful expropriation of the bank from him and his fellow shareholders,” Lafferty, a partner at law firm Fieldfisher, said. “He is confident that it will be established that the bank has not in fact suffered any loss whatsoever.”
Enyo Law, which is representing Bogolyubov, did not respond to a request for comment.