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Oligarch tells court of 'hitmen' in £1.3bn legal battle

By Jim Armitage

Some of the most extraordinary allegations of violence and murder ever seen in a London commercial legal dispute have emerged in documents filed into the High Court.

The allegations have emerged as part of the $2bn (£1.34bn) legal action by Viktor Pinchuk, a Kensington and Kiev-based oligarch friend of Tony Blair, against two other Ukrainian billionaires over a takeover deal.

One of them, Belgravia-based Gennadiy Bogolyubov, recently accused Pinchuk of witness tampering in the case, and sought permission to bring contempt of court proceedings.

One witness alleged to have been coerced was the former chief prosecutor of Ukraine.

But Pinchuk's team hit back with explosive allegations in the High Court that the witness had previously helped cover up attempted murders ordered by Bogolyubov's business partner, Igor Kolomoisky. Pinchuk is also suing Kolomoisky in his $2bn legal action.

The court heard that Kolomoisky, through his lawyer Freshfields, denies all the allegations, which, it must be stressed, were not considered by the judge and formed part of what Mr Justice Flaux described as "mud-slinging" between the parties - claims, denials and counter-allegations.

The Pinchuk team's witness statement alleges Kolomoisky ordered a Ukrainian lawyer be attacked for refusing to leak details from a client.

Accidentally, the attack gang first savagely beat up one of the lawyer's colleagues in a case of mistaken identity before assaulting the "right" lawyer.

Kolomoisky "then arranged the killing of the gang members who botched the attacks… and sought to cover up these murders," the statement says.

It cites an official Ukraine prosecutor's office resolution that "I. V. Kolomoisky threatened [the lawyer] with murder, a few days later, when [the lawyer] had not complied with I. V. Kolomoisky's demands, the latter decided to murder [the lawyer] out of revenge for failure to comply with his instructions".

"To implement his criminal intent, he asked S. Y. Nikitin, his personal security officer, to organise the assassination… Thus, I. V. Kolomoisky entered into criminal collusion with S. Y. Nikitin and ordered [the lawyer's] pre-meditated murder."

An application seeking an order for Kolomoisky's arrest was drafted, but the chief prosecutor quashed it after being asked to by an intermediary working for Kolomoisky, the Pinchuk team claim.

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