Usmanov-watch: Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
That at least is what Usmanov and his collective of cunts at Schillings have been trying to get across to the media, with the pain of potential litigation if they deviate from their personally prepared script.
It's a great shame then that this view of Usmanov is somewhat shattered by a report in today's Sunday Times:
Arsenal tycoon Alisher Usmanov in diamond ‘fraud’ row The Russian tycoon who has bought a £120m stake in Arsenal, the Premier League leaders, has been accused in court papers of “fraud” and “unjust enrichment” in a dispute over one of the world’s most lucrative diamond mines. ...
The latest controversy concerns a court action in Denver, Colorado where hearings are due to start next month. At stake is the ownership of the so-called Grib Pipe, a fabulously rich diamond mine in the Arkhangelsk region of northern Russia.
The mining firm, Archangel Diamond Corporation (ADC) in which De Beers owns a controlling stake, claims it is entitled to an interest in the Grib Pipe, which was discovered in 1996. The Grib Pipe is now said to be one of the largest diamond mines in the world, with a prospective value of £4.5 billion.
But in the Colorado court papers, ADC has alleged that Usmanov and other Russian interests “engaged in fraud in order to deceive” it over an agreement it says it had to take a 40% interest in the mine....
Foreign firms were encouraged to develop exploration and mining concessions with a view to improving the local economy. They say few in Russia expected that anyone would strike diamonds in the remote area.
It was shortly after this, the court papers allege, that Usmanov and others who were involved with a big Russian oil firm became party to a scheme to drive ADC out of Russia and take over the diamond project for themselves. The Russian firm in the joint venture was privatised and after this, ADC was denied access to develop the mine.
We should be careful of course. Usmanov might be entirely innocent of these allegations. It does however somewhat shatter Usmanov's argument that his money was made entirely legitimately and without any help from the Kremlin. It's also just a coincidence that Usmanov was jailed in the 80s on fraud and theft charges, and here he is, just after he's tried to charm the media into believing it was all a conspiracy against him, being accused of err, fraud and "unjust enrichment", which I'm sure you'll agree is completely different to stealing. Usmanov claims his parents did not bring him up as a "a gangster and a racketeer", two of the charges Murray made against him, and he could well be telling the truth. He seems more than capable of developing those qualities later in life.
The Times' article also informs us of the PR firm that Usmanov has seemingly hired to transform his image from an obese, toad-like megalomaniac to that of a kindly, slighted benefactor. Finsbury Limited, Usmanov's choice, are just as boastful of their prowess as Schillings are. Finsbury count some of the following delightful companies as clients:
British Sky Broadcasting Plc
Daily Mail and General Trust plc
Northern Rock plc
Reed Elsevier PLC (responsible for the arms fairs held in London's Docklands every year)
Rio Tinto plc
Royal Dutch Shell plc
You get the feeling that even they are going to have their work cut out spinning for this ghastly, mendacious bully.