Chelsea boss Roman Abramovich sues Australian arm of HarperCollins over author’s claims he bought the club on the orders of Vladimir Putin
- Court action concerns book by Catherine Belton and published by HarperCollins
- Book is ‘Putin’s People: How the KGB took back Russia and then took the West’
- Most interesting claim is that he bought the club on the orders of Vladimir Putin
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is to sue the Australian arm of HarperCollins over claims he bought the club on the orders of Vladimir Putin.
The allegations are made in Catherine Belton’s book ‘Putin’s People: How the KGB took back Russia and then took the West’.
Belton quotes fugitive billionaire Sergei Pugachev, once dubbed ‘Putin’s Banker’ as the source of the claims but Abramovich maintains the allegations are untrue and damaging both to him and the club.
Pugachev was discredited in a High Court action in 2016 and branded ‘self-serving’ and ‘impossible to believe’ by Mrs Justice Rose.
He made his allegations about the Chelsea deal in a subsequent 2018 High Court hearing but they were disregarded by the judge.
In March, Abramovich announced he was suing HarperCollins in London’s High Court. The first court hearing is expected in July.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is suing the Australian arm of HarperCollins over the book
The allegations are made in Catherine Belton’s book ‘Putin’s People’ which HarperCollins ran
The action in Australia is intended to close a loophole which could allow HarperCollins to continue distributing the book down under even if the High Court ruled in his favour.
Injunctions granted by the English courts generally would not be binding in Australia.
A source close to Mr Abramovich said: ‘This action is a further step to refute the false allegations regarding Mr. Abramovich’s name and have them corrected.’
A source close to Chelsea FC said: ‘The author uses two main sources in regard to the main allegations.
‘Sergei Pugachev who, according to the author, was interviewed 21 times over six years, by far the most of any interviewee and secondly, Boris Berezovsky.
‘Both of these individuals have been branded unreliable and discredited in the UK High Court.
The action in Australia is intended to close a loophole which let HarperCollins distribute it
‘Sergei Pugachev makes a number of false claims about Mr Abramovich in Ms Belton’s book, including the false claim related to his purchase of Chelsea Football Club.
‘This claim contradicts a raft of well-documented evidence to the contrary.
‘A 2005 author interview with Boris Berezosky forms the basis for the book’s false claim about who received the proceeds from the 2005 sale of Sibneft.
‘The ownership of Sibneft was the subject of a legal case in the UK High Court, and Mr Berezovsky’s false claims to ownership of Sibneft were rejected by the High Court in 2012.’
Berezovsky had been branded ‘an unimpressive, and inherently unreliable, witness’ by Mrs Justice Gloster in her 2012 judgment.
Pugachev is a former banker, industrialist and senator who left Russia for London in January 2011.
He was facing criminal charges relating to the demise of Pugachev’s Mezhprombank, which had been declared insolvent by the Russian government in 2010, despite the bank receiving significant state assistance during the 2008 global recession.
The Russian government accused Pugachev of using the money to enrich himself, which he denies.
Lawyers for the Federation of Russia attempted to freeze Mr Pugachev’s assets.
In March 2015, Mr Justice Peter Smith prohibited Mr Pugachev from leaving the country and ordered him to turn over his passports.
Pugachev subsequently fled the UK in June 2015 in violation of the court order.
The claim in Australia is being brought against HarperCollins Publishers Australia, which is the second largest trade publishing company in Australia and a subsidiary of HarperCollins Publishers, the second-largest consumer book publisher in the world.
HarperCollins Publishers Limited is also a defendant in the claim.