MOSCOW, November 22 - RAPSI, Alyona Yegorova. Renowned whistleblower Alexei Navalny, a minority shareholder of VTB Bank, has appealed the court dismissal of his lawsuit against VTB Leasing, a VTB's subsidiary, and two other companies regarding a purchase of drilling rigs, the court told the Russian Leal Information Agency (RAPSI) on Tuesday.

VTB Leasing is fully owned by VTB, Russia's second largest bank.

Navalny challenged the July 26, 2007 contract over the sale of 30 drilling rigs and a lease agreement signed later. The whistleblower claims the deal has caused $160 million in damages.

The Moscow Commercial Court dismissed Navalny's lawsuit on July 15 as he missed the statute of limitations. Besides, the court said the claimant failed to prove that the disputed transaction damaged his interests.

The judgment came into force in September after it was upheld by the appellate court.

The co-defendants in the case are Cyprus' Clusseter limited and Russia's Well Drilling Corporation.

VTB Leasing press office earlier told RAPSI that all its deals concerning the lease of drilling rigs were profitable.

Navalny maintains that the deal was aimed to transfer $160 million to Clusseter's accounts. He said that Clusseter purchased drilling rigs for $297 million from China's Sichuan Honghua petroleum Equipment Co. Ltd. However it later sold the rigs to VTB Leasing for $456.9 millions. The claimant asserts VTB Leasing unjustifiably overpaid by more than $150 million by purchasing the rigs not from their Chinese manufacturer, but from a Cypriot intermediary.