MOSCOW, July 9 (RAPSI) – A court in Lyubertsy, a town in the Moscow Region, on Tuesday found businessman Konstantin Ponomarev, known for his dispute with IKEA over rented diesel generators, guilty of false denunciation and sentenced him to 8 years in prison, RAPSI reported from the courtroom.

His lawyer Maxim Zagorsky was also convicted in the case and received 7 years and 8 months behind bars. He was also banned from practicing law for 3 years.

A judge held that the defendants committed several crimes related to evidence simulation. The attorney was an organizer of the criminal group, the ruling reads.

Prosecutors earlier demanded 8.5 years in jail for each defendant. Moreover, they asked the court to prohibit Zagorsky from practicing law for 3 years.

The trial of Ponomarev and Zagorsky started in December 2018.  Investigators considered initiation of criminal proceedings by a private person on Ponomarev’s appeal as false denunciation.

The defendants pleaded not guilty and insisted on acquittal.

Ponomarev was 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.

The businessman believes that the false denunciation case was resulted from the conflict with IKEA. Ponomarev claims that the company thus wants to stretch the time and siphon assets in order to avoid paying a multibillion debt to him.