LONDON, 27 September – RAPSI. London's High Court of Justice postponed on Thursday the trial between entrepreneur Mikhail Cherney and Oleg Deripaska, owner of Russian aluminum giant RUSAL. Speaking to the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI), a court spokesperson declined to provide a reason for the delay, or to indicate when the hearing might be expected to resume.

Cherney had previously been expected to testify via video link in court this week. Cherney seeks compensation from Deripaska over a disputed aluminum deal that occurred in the 1990s.

According to Russian media sources, the hearings may have been delayed in order to accommodate a pending settlement agreement. However, this information has not yet been officially concerned and RAPSI has not yet received comments from the parties to the case.

On the basis of an agreement allegedly drawn up between the parties in London in 2001, Cherney seeks compensation in the amount of 20% of the value of the Russian Aluminum Company, RUSAL’s early prototype. He claims that the agreement pertained to the transfer in trust of Cheney's shares in the company to Deripaska with a commitment that the latter would pay the former for the transfer in three to five years.

Deripaska in turn claims that Cherney's allegations are baseless and charged that the two had never been business partners. The calculations made and the signatures rendered between them more than a decade ago were merely a cover for a "krysha" agreement. Krysha is a term for an illegal form of protection offered by criminal groups to wealthy businesses and their officials. These protection agreements were common practice in the Russian business world of the 1990s. In refuting his claims, Deripaska noted Cherney's deeply rooted criminal connections.