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The Power of Money: How Autocrats Use London to Beat Enemies Worldwide


Many English lawyers and judges claim that frozen orders are essential to contain fraudsters and defend the openness of their courts to lawsuits and evidence from countries with compromised legal systems. In evaluating all evidence, regardless of where it came from or how it got there, they believe that it serves better justice.

“The admissibility of evidence makes British courts more attractive than countries like the US for this type of litigation,” said Pavel Tokarev, a former Diligence investigator who founded his own agency in 2019. “The rules for accepting evidence are very flexible in the UK”

Ms. Tyshchenko’s prison evidence is a case in point.

To acquire it, Mr. Hardman worked with Andrei A. Pavlov, a Russian lawyer hired by BTA Bank. The United States and Britain later sanctioned Pavlov for his alleged role in a criminal conspiracy that resulted in the 2009 death of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison. Mr Pavlov said in an interview in Moscow that he was unjustifiably smeared and did nothing wrong. He said he was proud to have worked with Mr Hardman as his London partner had a reputation for being an excellent lawyer.

Amid complaints that Hogan Lovells had not fully informed the court that Ms. Tyshchenko had submitted her evidence under duress, an English judge ruled that they had complied with disclosure requirements by stating that she was detained when she provided the information provided for the first time. However, the judge was not asked to decide whether the circumstances of her detention – the fact that she was in a Russian prison – should be taken into account, as well as Mr Pavlov’s involvement and whether Ms. Tyshchenko had been ill-treated.

While Ms. Tyshchenko remained in prison, another Hogan Lovells attorney convinced an English judge to issue an order requiring her husband in the UK to provide records and other information. Evidence produced by the law firm included “press reports” from compromat.ru, a Russian website notorious as a clearinghouse for unconfirmed and sometimes fabricated information.

Hogan Lovells said the London High Court had already dismissed complaints of “improper conduct” by the firm in the case of Ms. Tyshchenko, stating that she was “fully” in line with the rules of evidence. The information from compromat.ru is “a small part of a much larger collection of evidence that the court accepted to justify the issuance of the order” in the case of Ms. Tyshchenko, the company said.

Ms. Tyshchenko was less confident. “There are no good guys in this affair,” she said.

If some London law firms have made rich profits defending oligarchs and former Soviet countries, they have sometimes been less successful in getting funds back for these clients. As of November 2020, BTA Bank had only recovered $ 45 million of the more than $ 6 billion Mr Ablyazov allegedly stole, its chairman said in a recent affidavit.

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