Residence Issue Crucial to Berezovsky Estate Decision

MOSCOW, March 26 (RIA Novosti) – Resolving the fate of the Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky’s estate will depend on whether the United Kingdom or Russia is ruled to have been his official place of residence, an expert told the Rapsi news agency on Monday.

Since 2000, the Russian businessman had resided in the United Kingdom, where he died on Saturday at the age of 67.

John Goodchild, a partner and the head of private client group at the Pemberton Greenish law firm, said that under the UK legislation the fact that a person had resided in the country for a long period does not necessarily mean that it was his official place of residence, and a number of other issues should be taken into account while deciding on the matter.

He said that many foreign businessmen are unwilling to have the UK listed as their official place of residence, partly because of taxation issues.

However, ownership litigation concerning Berezovsky’s land and real estate in the country will be based solely on UK laws, Goodchild said.

As far as other Berezovsky’s assets are concerned, the court will resort to the laws of his official place of residence.

Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Zvyagintsev said on Monday that Russian prosecutors will continue legal efforts to bring back to Russia assets criminally acquired by Berezovsky and legalized abroad.

The businessman had previously been found guilty in absentia of fraud and organized crime by Russian courts in two criminal cases, while several other trials are still pending.

Despite numerous extradition requests, London refused to hand Berezovsky over to Russia to stand trial.

“As the Russian Criminal Code stipulates confiscation of property [as punishment] for setting up and participating in a criminal group, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office will continue its legal action aimed at bringing back to Russia the assets that Berezovsky and his accomplices illegally acquired and legalized abroad,” Zvyagintsev said.

In November 2007, a Russian court sentenced Berezovsky in absentia to six years in jail for stealing millions of dollars from the Russian airline Aeroflot in the 1990s.

In June 2009, he was sentenced in absentia to a further 13 years for stealing thousands of cars from carmaker Avtovaz, also in the 1990s.

At the request of Russian prosecutors, in 2011 assets worth more than $320 million belonging to Berezovsky were frozen by several countries, including property worth 13 million euros in France.

British authorities have launched a probe into Berezovsky’s death, as its cause remains undetermined. The autopsy was scheduled for 13:00 GMT (17:00 Moscow time).

Russia’s Investigative Committee said on Saturday that pending criminal cases against the fugitive oligarch could be closed upon receiving official notification of his death from Britain and the consent of his relatives.


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