MOSCOW, December 5 - RAPSI, Natalia Belova. The court will hear on January 12 a cassation appeal filed by renowned whistleblower Alexei Navalny against the court's dismissal of his lawsuit against VTB Leasing, a subsidiary of VTB Bank, and two other companies, the court told the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI/

Navalny, a VTB Bank minority shareholder, challenged a contract dated July 26, 2007 on the sale of 30 drilling rigs, as well as a lease agreement which was signed later. The whistleblower said the deal caused $160 million in damages.

The Moscow Commercial Court dismissed Navalny's lawsuit on July 15 due to the statute of limitations. The court also said the claimant failed to prove that the deal damaged his interests.

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

The co-defendants in the case are the Cypriot Clusseter Limited and Well Drilling Corporation.

VTB Leasing earlier told RAPSI that all its deals to lease drilling rigs are profitable.

Navalny maintains that the deal aimed to transfer $160 million to Clusseter's accounts.

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

The Well Drilling Corporation is a Russian corporation.