Russian billionaire appears in Swiss court

Abramovich appeared in person in the Fribourg civil court to defend the case against his companies. Keystone

Roman Abramovich, a Russian billionaire, is on trial in Switzerland. He is accused of defrauding a publicly-funded European bank of millions of taxpayers’ money.

This content was published on May 2, 2018 - 10:56 with SDA-ATS; urs

A court in the city of Fribourg on Wednesday opened proceedings against the 52-year-old businessman and owner of the English football club, Chelsea, amid heightened security.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and DevelopmentExternal link (EBRD) is suing the Russian energy company Gazprom, co-owned by Abramovich, for payment of a long-standing multi-million loan debt.

The case about the labyrinthine business dealings dates back to the year 2000 and has broad international dimensions. It also involves a Swiss-based company, Runicom.

The claimants say they will pursue Abramovich “anywhere he goes”, as they told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) earlier this year.

Gazprom argues a Swiss court has no jurisdiction in the highly complex case.

However, the Swiss Supreme Court has ruled that the law suit can be held in Switzerland. It is not clear how long the trial will last.

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