News, Culture & Society

Putin’s pal loses bid to stay anonymous in court fight

A former judo partner of Russian president Vladimir Putin who wanted to keep his name out of the papers after getting into a dispute with his ex-wife over money has lost his battle.  

Judges have decided that wealthy Russian businessman Arkady Rotenberg can be named in media reports of the case after a freedom of speech fight with bosses at The Times.

Mr Rotenberg, 66, argued that his name, and that of his ex-wife Natalia, should not feature in media reports because of safety concerns.

The pair were locked in a legal dispute after he argued that he should not have to make a divorce payout to her because his assets within the EU were frozen. 

The long-term acquaintance of Putin cannot come to Britain, where his ex-wife now lives in Surrey, because of EU sanctions.

Arkady Rotenberg (pictured with Vladimir Putin) has lost his battle to stay anonymous during newspaper reports involving his divorce battle with his ex-wife Natalia

Mr Rotenberg has argued that he should not have to pay his ex-wife any divorce money because his EU assets have been frozen

Mr Rotenberg has argued that he should not have to pay his ex-wife any divorce money because his EU assets have been frozen

Most of his money, some £2.2billion, comes from Kremlin-awarded contracts given to his engineering company, including a current project to build a bridge between Russia and Crimea. 

Journalists disagreed and editors at The Times tried to persuade judges to rule the pair should be identified.

They said he had featured in a public court hearing in the Court of Appeal in London and argued that reporters should be allowed to publish names.

The newspaper’s lawyers, led by barrister Adam Wolanksi, won fights in the High Court and Court of Appeal.

Mr Justice Moor ruled that both Mr Rotenberg and his ex-wife could be named after analysing the dispute at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

Appeal judges, who considered the issue at a Court of Appeal hearing in London last year, upheld that ruling.

But they said the media must remain gagged until Supreme Court justices had considered Mr Rotenberg’s arguments.

Supreme Court justices on Friday announced that they would not analyse the case – because it raised no ‘arguable point of law’ – and the reporting bar was lifted.

Mr Rotenberg and his ex-wife had fought over money at hearings in the Family Division of the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

They subsequently reached a settlement.

Journalists and editors at The Times argued that they should be able to publish names and successfully won fights in the High Court and Court of Appeal

Journalists and editors at The Times argued that they should be able to publish names and successfully won fights in the High Court and Court of Appeal

Four years ago Mr Rotenberg was one of a number of people made the subject of sanctions by European Union ministers.

They froze funds – and imposed a ‘ban on staying’ in EU territories – against people whose ‘actions’ threatened the independence of Ukraine.

A ruling published by the General Court of the European Union described Mr Rotenberg as a ‘long-time acquaintance’ of Mr Putin.

‘Mr Rotenberg is a long-time acquaintance of President Putin and his former judo sparring partner,’ said the ruling.

‘He has developed his fortune during President Putin’s tenure.’

‘He has been favoured by Russian decision-makers in the award of important contracts by the Russian State or by State-owned enterprises.

‘His companies were notably awarded several highly lucrative contracts for the preparations of the Sochi Olympic Games.’

The ruling sited business activities which undermined the ‘territorial integrity’ of Ukraine.

Pia Sarma, editorial legal director for Times Newspapers, said: ‘Secrecy in the court system is a growing concern.

‘The press has a duty to uphold the principle of open justice and act as the eyes and ears of the public in the courts.

‘The Times will resist any attempts to erode those principles.’



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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