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Businessman ordered to reveal his legal expenses funding source by High Court

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Kazakh businessman Ilyas Khrapunov has been ordered by the High Court in London to provide full details of how he is funding litigation against him and who is providing the funding for his legal expenses. Khrapunov is the son in law of Mukhtar Ablyazov, who is being accused of misappropriating $6bn from Kazakhstan’s JSC BTA Bank prior to its nationalisation in 2009.

Solicitors for the Kazakh bank have questioned how Khrapunov is funding his legal fees, given the “striking paucity” of his personal financial situation, the fact that he and Ablyazov are subject to longstanding asset freezing orders and that the banks legal fees have already exceeded £2m. Khrapunov has claimed that it is his mother who is providing the litigation funding, even though, according to the bank, she is unlikely to be in a position to do so based on sales of her past businesses. Instead of Ms Ablyazov providing a loan of £500,000 for the legal fees, the funding is actually coming from Mr Ablyazov.

High Court judge Patricia Robertson, QC, said:

I do not accept that the evidence from Ms Khrapunova’s website proves that she herself lacks substantial wealth. That material is part of a campaign of rhetoric and counter-rhetoric being carried on in the media and is of limited weight as evidence…On its own terms it suggests she did derive some wealth from sale of her businesses and what is being alleged against her in the separate litigation in which she is involved is that she has in fact amassed significant wealth…However, the fact she may have the means does not establish that she is in fact the true source of the funds used to pay her son’s legal expenses.”

In delivering judgement in the case – JSC BTA Bank v Ablyazov and another, Robertson said:

It does not seem to me oppressive to expect Mr Khrapunov to provide the disclosure that is sought, which extends only to what he knows or may by reasonable enquiry find out…Whilst it may be that the response that will be obtained is that Mr Khrapunov does not know and his mother refuses to tell him from where she is sourcing the funds, if that is the answer it will be open to the bank to test that answer in cross-examination.”

Funding for litigation and legal fees can often be a major stumbling block for individuals and businesses needing to take legal action. The team at Advantage are highly experienced in funding options for a range of commercial legal actions, including After the Event (ATE) insurance options that may be available on a no-win no-fee basis. To find out more click here or call 0800 160 1298.

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