Exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky has been found dead at his home in Surrey.
The circumstances of the death of Mr Berezovsky – a wanted man in Russia, and an opponent of President Vladimir Putin – are not yet known.
He was a former Kremlin power-broker whose fortunes had declined under Mr Putin. Berezovsky emigrated to the UK in 2000.
Last year, he lost a £3bn ($4.7bn) damages claim against Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich.
Mr Berezovsky claimed he had been intimidated by Mr Abramovich into selling shares in Russian oil giant Sibneft for a “fraction of their true worth”.
The allegations were completely rejected by the London Commercial Court judge, who called Mr Berozovsky an “inherently unreliable” witness.
She also said she found Mr Abramovich “to be a truthful, and on the whole reliable, witness”.
Mr Berezovsky, who had told reporters before the verdict that: “I believe in the system”, afterwards said : “I am absolutely amazed by what’s happened today… particularly because Lady Gloster took the responsibility to rewrite Russian history.”
Abramovich was not in court for the ruling and is thought to be in Monte Carlo for Chelsea’s Super Cup Final on Friday night.
A statement issued on his behalf said: “There were many serious allegations made against Mr Abramovich by Mr Berezovsky, including attacks on Mr Abramovich’s honesty and integrity.
“We are pleased that the judge has firmly rejected all such allegations and has described Mr Abramovich as a truthful and frank witness who showed a responsible and honest approach when giving evidence in this case.”
When he gave evidence, Abramovich had said Mr Berezovsky was paid millions of pounds for his services as a “political godfather” but was not a business partner.
The court heard Berezovsky had “fled Russia, never to return” in 2000, after falling out with President Vladimir Putin.
Berezovsky told the court he was born in Moscow, studied mechanics and mathematics and worked as a designer for Russian state car maker AvtoVAZ in the 1970s, before going into business in the 1980s.
Berezovsky had claimed Abramovich was a “gangster”.
Abramovich responded by saying there were times when Berezovsky was “something of a megalomaniac”.
Please click here for Template report, Oligarch’s Playground
You watch my back..
Those who are wondering how our country could one day pan out, may want to take a look at a £6.5 billion court case currently being played out in a London court between two extremely wealthy Russian businessmen, both of whom profitted from the collapse of the Soviet Union. The men at the centre of this saga are living comfortably here in London, though one has his clean-cut football owner image tarnised somewhat by revelations in court that he paid protection money during the aluminium wars, when it is reported someone was killed every three days. The other is wanted by questioning by Russia – in particular by one Vladimir Putin – for being one of a number of businessmen responsible for walking out of Moscow with a huge portion of the nation’s wealth.
Things may not have been that grand under Communism, but after the fall of the evil empire, it was literally each man for himself in the ‘Wild West’ – those were the words used in court – that followed.
The ‘new’ money that men such as Roman Abramovich and Boris Berezovsky have brought with them may yet come at a price.