Cyprus court freezes $820 mln of Akhmetov's assets in dispute over Ukrtelecom - FT
A Cyprus court has ordered the freezing of $820.5 million of the assets of Ukrainian businessman Rinat Akhmetov at the request of Raga Establishment, owned by the former head of the bankrupt Rodovid Bank, Denys Horbunenko, which accuses Akhmetov's SCM Financial Overseas (SCM FO) of underpayment for the purchase of Ukraine's fixed-line telecoms group Ukrtelecom, the Financial Times reported on Friday.
According to a copy of the court decision provided by the claimant to the British newspaper, the District Court of Nicosia made the decision on December 27, 2017. The defendant has the right to appeal against the asset freeze until January 8.
Global Arbitration Review reported in early December last year that Raga had won the case at the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), initiated in 2016, having received a court decision obliging SCM FO to pay $760 million of the main debt and $60.4 million as interest and legal costs.
Raga stated that it had sold Ukrtelecom to SCM FO in 2013 for $860 million, which should have been paid in three instalments, but only the first instalment of $100 million had been paid.
SCM FO, in turn, claimed that Raga (previously known as Epic Telecom Invest Ltd. and acting on behalf of Austria's EPIC Group as the owner of ESU LLC - the buyer of Ukrtelecom when it was sold by the state in 2011) had not fulfiled its investment obligations undertaken during privatization. In particular, the issue concerns the creation of a telecommunications network for Ukrainian government agencies.
The Financial Times, referring to Horbunenko, also notes that another Ukrainian businessman, Dmytro Firtash, whose company, Group DF, partially financed the purchase of Ukrtelecom in the course of its privatization, could also be involved in this case. The company is owed $300 million by Raga.
According to the report, Horbunenko purchased Raga, which owned the rights to Ukrtelecom, from Epic in 2013. But the London arbitration ruling from June 2017 stated it was SCM's case that discussions about Akhmetov's purchase of an Ukrtelecom stake began in August 2012 at "the request" of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. According to the Interfax-Ukraine news agency, Horbunenko has recently been close to Firtash, in particular, he attended an Austrian court session on Firtash's extradition to the United States in 2017.