LONDON, January 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- On 3 January 2011 an indictment of Avigdor Eskin, a political activist, was submitted by the Attorney General's office to a Jerusalem court. The indictment relates to the case of illegal collection of information about Israeli businessman Michael Cherney.
Mr Eskin is the fourth defendant in this case, which focuses on illegal spying on Mr Cherney. As reported by the IzRus news website, in the last few months the Attorney General's office negotiated with Mr Eskin about bringing up lesser chargers of dropping them altogether in exchange for his confession that the illegal wiretapping of Mr Cherney was ordered by Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.
Exactly one year ago, a Tel Aviv court found the former private investigator guilty in the same case and sentenced him to 14 months of prison and damages amounting to 20,000 shekels. In September 2010 charges were also brought against former private investigators Rafael Pridan and Maksim Gurevich.
According to the bill of indictment submitted to the Jerusalem court this month, one of the charges against Mr Eskin is that in April 2007 was contacted by Alexei Drobaschenko whose objective was to inflict damage on businessman Michael Cherney. At that time Mr Drobaschenko was serving as the head of external relations for Basic Element, the financial and industrial group that manages Oleg Deripaska's assets. The indictment details that at a meeting in Moscow, Mr Drobaschenko explained to Mr Eskin and Mr Pridan that "people he represented are in conflict with businessman Michael Cherney and wanted to gather information on him".
Background to this Jerusalem case includes a lawsuit taking place in London. In November 2006 Michael Cherney filed a suit against Oleg Deripaska, his former business partner. In this case Mr Cherney demands that he be recognised as the owner of 20 per cent of the stock in UC Rusal (the second largest aluminium producer in the world), or else that he be compensated the full value of the package. The total of the claim, including various interest and charges by June 2010 exceeds $4bn USD. The High Court in London has ruled against all Mr Deripaska's motions that challenged British jurisdiction for the case and the court will hear the case on its merit in April 2012.
In April 2009 Israeli publication Haaretz noted that this London suit was the cause of Mr Deripaska and his advisers undertaking large scale attempts to discredit Mr Cherney in Europe and Israel. In addition to attempting to damage Mr Cherney's reputation, they allegedly expected that a European country would place him on the international Wanted list in order to prevent him appearing in court in London.
On February 14, 2008, Mr Cherney filed a suit in a Tel Aviv court against nine people, including Oleg Deripaska, Alexei Drobashenko, Avigdor Eskin, Rafael Pridan and Aviv Mor, asking for 10 million shekels in damages. Mr Cherney claimed that Mr Deripaska had launched an international campaign , including one in Israel, to discredit him. This included "slanderous publications in electronic and print media, street graffiti, and attempts to influence authorities by illegal means".
Experts expect that the next indictment will be against Alexei Drobashenko, the former head of external relations for Basic Element (BasEl), and that this will directly implicate Oleg Deripaska, the owner of BasEl, in this criminal case.