An Irish-registered firm was allegedly at the centre of conspiracy to defraud the world’s largest producer of ammonia of a $2bn (€1.85bn) shareholding, the Commercial Court has heard.
Four firms, registered in the Carribbean, are suing Eurotoaz Ltd, which has a registered office at the Earlsfort Centre, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin.
They claim they were defrauded, through illegal and corrupt actions, of their 70% interest in Russian firm Togliattiazot (ToAZ), a €3bn company which is the world’s largest producer of trade ammonia used in fertiliser.
Eurotaz rejects the conspiracy claims or that there was a political motivation behind efforts to prosecute and sue ToAZ in Russia.
The four firms — Trafalgar Developments, Instantania Holdings, Kamara, and Bairiki Inc — have also sued a number of other companies and individuals claiming they conspired together in the fraud scheme.
It is claimed the four were subjected to part of an internationally recognised phenomenon known as ‘raider attacks’, which is prevalent in the Russian Federation.
It involves a so-called raider acquiring a minority shareholding in a target company and afterwards a series of improper civil and criminal lawsuits are repeatedly brought to devalue a company’s stocks.
Along with improper pressure on judicial authorities to bring regulatory and tax prosecutions against the company’s principals, the raider procures freezing of shares and cash and the business collapses with effective control wrested from its owners.
In this case, Eurotoaz was allegedly central to the scheme of conducting vexatious litigation based on false and sham evidence against ToAZ.
Among the other defendants are Russian billionaire Dmitry Mazepin, a former member of the Kirov regional duma in Russia as a representative of the United Russia Party, which is led by Russian president Vladimir Putin.
It is claimed that Mr Mazepin had led the scheme to defraud the four companies of their interest in ToAZ. Mr Mazepin owns a minority interest in ToAZ and controls one of the other defendant firms, United Chemical Company Uralchem, the plaintiff companies say.
Seeking to have the case admitted to the Commercial Court, counsel Paul Gallagher said that Ireland was the appropriate jurisdiction for the case and it would require careful case management by the Commercial Court. It involves in excess of €2bn, was a complex case, and his clients had been subjected to an Interpol investigation which was politically motivated, he said.
Paul Gardiner, counsel for Eurotoaz and one of its directors, Andrey Gennadyevich Babichev, of Veronez, Russia, said that his clients reject the allegations or the notion of a political motivation behind the Russia proceedings.
Mr Justice Brian McGovern said he would adjourn the matter to January.
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