Sovcomflot has not commented on the verdict of the Dorogomolovsky Court in Moscow that sentenced former Sovcomflot and Novoship top managers, Yury Nikitin, Dmitry Skarga and Tagir Izmailov, to various prison terms in absentia.
SeaNews has asked Mike Lax, Partner with Lax & Co, the lawyer who represented Yury Nikitin in the English High Court, to comment on the judgement. Quoting:
“I’m afraid I haven’t seen any judgment of the Dorogomilovsky Court so it is difficult to comment in detail. I recall that the allegations in the Dorogomilovsky Court looked very similar to some of the allegations made against the same Defendants in the English High Court. You will recall that with the exception of some of the commission claims made against Mr Nikitin, Clarksons and Galbraiths, all of those allegations by Sovcomflot were dismissed by the English High Court as well as by the Court of Appeal. Indeed, the English High Court and Court of Appeal even went so far as to Order Sovcomflot to pay compensation to Mr Niktin of approximately $75 million for wrongfully freezing Mr Nikitin’s assets”.
“So if the Dorogomilovsky Court has now found Mr Nikitin guilty of being the head of a criminal gang that defrauded Sovcomflot and for which he should serve 15 years, it is a curious state of affairs that the victims of the crime should be ordered by the English High Court to pay the head of the criminal gang $75m. One of the Courts must therefore be in error. Which one?”
“Well, the English High Court heard oral and written evidence from numerous witnesses and from experts instructed by both sides; the Judge was a very experienced shipping and commercial judge; a transcript of the proceedings was published every day for everyone to review; and at the end of the case, the judge published a judgment which was fully reasoned and summarised the evidence; it was a few hundred pages long”.
“The Moscow Court was by contrast presided over by a Judge whose knowledge and experience of shipping contracts governed by English Law is unknown; experts in shipping and accounting were not apparently called to give evidence and be cross-examined; there was no transcript and we have seen no judgment let alone detailed reasoning. We leave it to your readers to decide which of the Courts most likely got it right and which got it wrong”.
According to reports, this Monday the Dorogomilovsky Court announced its verdict, according to which the defendants were found guilty of organizing and participating in a criminal gang, abuse of authority, misappropriation and legalizing of monetary proceeds of the crime. Y.Nikitin was sentenced to 15 years in prison, D.Skarga to 12 years and T.Izmailov to 11 years. The Court also imposed upon them fines ranging from 2.5 mn rubles to 5 mn rubles and ordered their property arrested earlier (money, stock, flats) to be seized.