NY Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Lebedev in $2B Oil Proceeds Dispute

(October 6, 2016, New York) — An appellate court in New York has cleared the path for Russian businessman Leonid Lebedev to proceed with his New York litigation against Leonard Blavatnik and Viktor Vekselberg.  

In his lawsuit, Mr. Lebedev seeks to enforce his contractual rights to receive $2 billion of the proceeds from TNK-BP’s 2013 sale to Rosneft of oil and gas assets in Russia.  Mr. Lebedev alleges that Messrs. Blavatnik and Vekselberg received his share of the sale’s proceeds and failed to pay that sum to Mr. Lebedev.  The three men were partners in a joint venture that participated in the ownership of TNK-BP.  In early 2015, Messrs. Blavatnik and Vekselberg filed a motion seeking dismissal of the New York litigation.  The defendants argued without success that the litigation should be dismissed because, they alleged, the key events in this dispute occurred more than 13 years ago.  

In December 2015, Justice Saliann Scarpulla of the Supreme Court of the State of New York rejected the defendants’ argument and denied their motion to dismiss, finding that the claims against Messrs. Blavatnik and Vekselberg accrued in 2013 when they failed to pay Mr. Lebedev his share of the proceeds from the Rosneft sale.  The defendants then filed an appeal.  

On October 4, 2016, the New York State Appellate Division rejected the defendants’ appeal and affirmed Justice Scarpulla’s decision.  The Appellate Division, in a lengthy and thoughtful decision, held that “the challenged claims relating to the sale to Rosneft accrued not in 2001, or 2003, but in 2013, and are therefore timely.”  

Following the court’s decision, Mr. Lebedev stated:  “I could not be more pleased with the decision of the Appellate Division.  The court quite properly rejected the latest in a series of attempts by Mr. Blavatnik and Mr. Vekselberg to avoid living up to their contractual obligations to me.  We are one step closer to a victory in New York.”  

Michael Miller, a partner in Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s New York office, leads the representation of Mr. Lebedev in this matter, assisted by Tom Dewey of Dewey Pegno & Kramarsky.  

Along with Mr. Miller, the Steptoe team includes Evan Glassman, Charles Michael, Leah Quadrino, Jeremy Glen, and Johanna Dennehy.

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