MOSCOW, January 17 (RAPSI) – The Supreme Court of Russia ordered reconsideration of a 507 million-ruble ($8 million) dispute between IKEA's Russian division IKEA Mos and businessman Konstantin Ponomarev over rented diesel generators, RAPSI reports from the courtroom on Tuesday.
The case will be reviewed by the Khimki Court in the Moscow Region.
The Supreme Court overturned lower courts’ rulings in this case.
In August 2016, the Krasninsky District Court in Smolensk ordered IKEA to pay 507 million rubles to the businessman.
The ruling was handed down after Joakim Virtanen, former general manager at IKEA division in St. Petersburg, had admitted to giving false testimony against Ponomarev in the case.
Virtanen said that he lied to investigators and gave false testimony in court at the request of lawyers who acted on behalf of IKEA Mos.
As a result, Alexander Khokhlov and Semyon Shevchenko who had been hired by IKEA Mos are suspected of pressing witnesses, evidence tampering and procuring perjury. A complaint against the lawyers has been filed with the Prosecutor General’s Office. Moscow City Bar was requested to check the lawyers for breach of Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.
In October, the Smolensk Regional Court dismissed an appeal filed by IKEA Mos against a lower court’s ruling in the company’s dispute with Ponomarev. The court also upheld seizure of monetary assets belonging to IKEA Mos and prohibition on its reorganization.
Ponomarev is embroiled in a long-standing dispute with IKEA that opted to rent diesel generators to power its shopping malls in St. Petersburg. Five criminal cases were opened against the businessman at the request of the Swedish retailer. However, a probe over alleged fraud found nothing, and the cases were dropped.
As a matter of fact, Ponomarev is one of the key witnesses in the case against Hermitage Capital Management CEO William Browder who stands accused of tax evasion on a large scale in Russia. According to investigators, Browder and Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer and auditor, set up an illegal scheme to siphon off over 500 million rubles (about $7.9 million). Browder was sentenced in July 2013 to nine years in prison in absentia. Magnitsky, who died in prison in suspicious circumstances, was found guilty of tax evasion in a posthumous trial.