“In Praise of Folly” is a book published by Erasmus of Rotterdam in 1509. Happily, businessmen of all sorts are still committing the folly of chasing each other in court, thus exposing their dirty linen in public. The most spectacular recent case of this folly was the clash of the oligarchs Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovitch. If it hadn’t been so outrageously offensive to hear the two recounting tales of corruption – as if it all was business as usual – in an English courtroom, it would have been utterly hilarious.
But the two oligarchs aren’t the only billionaires willing to stage a public fight at the Royal Courts of Justice. Simon Bower at the Guardian has unearthed some interesting stories from an ongoing court case involving Vincent Tchenguiz and his countryman, confidante, childhood friend and employee Keyvan Rahimian. Rahimian was so close to Tchenguiz that while he worked for him he also lived in his house. In late 2008 they fell out bitterly. Rahimian claims his former friend owes him £6.7m – Tchenguiz claims that Rahimian stole from his and is suing him for £2m.
But there is more to this case. In court, Tchenguiz has accused Rahimian of taking consultancy fees of almost €791,000 from a company called Carule, in undisclosed ownership, while Rahimian was working for him. Lawyers for Tchenguiz seem to have an idea where the money came from. They asked Rahimian if the oligarch Alisher Usmanov had paid him or a Pakistani millionaire, Alshair Fiyaz, recently in the UK news after abandoning a bid to buy a fashion chain, Peacock.
Rahimian only admitted that the payment was for financial research, though not disclosing who paid him. He says Usmanov is a friend but that he has never traded for him. Rahimian admits that he later got €388,000 to buy a Mercedes Benz in Paris and then passed the car on to Fiyaz.
All sorts of interesting pieces of information have popped up in this case, according to the Guardian:
“In angry exchanges, Rahimian accused Tchenguiz’s lawyers of raising irrelevant matters in the hope of embarrassing him in court. The property tycoon’s counsel made similar accusations about the evidence that Rahimian has sought to include. They claim that Rahimian is making “irrelevant” allegations that money transfers had been made, using his account, to pay for “eastern European models to come to the UK”. They characterise this as a threat and say Rahimian is hoping to embarrass Tchenguiz into a settlement of an otherwise “ridiculous” claim.”
Rahimian seems to be claiming that his accounts were used to pay for Eastern European girls, apparently for Tchenguiz. Why Tchenguiz is so touchy about this matter is difficult to understand since every article on him is almost invariably with photos of him with more than one lady. Perhaps he and Dominque Strauss Kahn see eye to eye on this: that any hint of money being paid for female company is abhorrent to them.
The question is still why this stream of money was going through the accounts of Rahimian, while he was working for Tchenguiz.
But the names of Tchenguiz, Usmanov and Fiyaz are not only united in the protocols of the Royal Court of Justice. Their names are to be found in Kaupthing loan books – they are all mentioned on the Kaupthing overview of larger than €45m exposures, presented to the Kaupthing management on September 25, 2008 (and later leaked to Wikileaks: Tchenguiz p62; Fiyaz p67; see here on Usmanov and Kaupthing) – the loans to these three allegedly had questionable collaterals.
This case is a further reminder that it’s not only in the present court case that there are untold stories. The feeling is that there are untold stories about the connections between some of the Kaupthing clients and why they all ended up being Kaupthing clients.
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