A court in Cyprus has issued an order to freeze $820 million in assets held by Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine's richest man, as part of a legal battle with a rival over the ownership of fixed-line telecoms group Ukrtelecom, The Financial Times reported.
The court's decision against Akhmetov and nine others was handed down on December 27, the London-based newspaper reported on January 5, adding the Ukrainian oligarch can appeal the decision until January 8.
Quoting a court document provided by Raga Establishment, owned by Denis Gorbunenko, the newspaper said the case seeks money for the sale of Ukrtelecom to Akhmetov's SCM Financial Overseas (SCM FO) by Raga in 2013 for $860 million.
Under the court order, Akhmetov and other respondents can manage their property as long as assets worth at least $820.5 million -- the amount sought by Raga in the litigation -- is preserved and that Raga is notified in advance of certain larger transactions.
Raga claims it received only $100 million up front for the sale and nothing since.
Further complicating the case, in October a Kyiv court terminated the original privatization contract that sold Ukrtelecom to ESU, a unit of Gorbunenko’s Raga, saying it failed to fulfill the obligations set out in the sale.
Assets held by Akhmetov, listed by Forbes magazine as having amassed a fortune of $4.6 billion through various business interests including mining and real estate, could be part of the freeze
He also has holdings in the coal, steel, and energy sectors, as well as the Shakhtar Donetsk football club.