The CCTV footage shows a group of men surround the factory security chief one evening as he tries to lock himself in his office for protection. He’s then pushed into another room and then someone turns off the light.
The raid on a Moscow textile factory played out on the screens of a London court Monday as part of the defense offered by a Russian businessman who’s fighting a claim from Oleg Deripaska over ownership of the site. The video shows the team from the billionaire’s Basic Element push the rival head of security to the ground.
Deripaska and his team have acknowledged they orchestrated a change of control at the factory in 2010, but his lawyers dismissed talk of an armed raid as “lurid." An executive with the billionaire said that they were simply desperate to change the governance at the crumbling site and pursue its redevelopment.
The case is between Chernukhin, a former Russian deputy minister who later fled to the U.K., and Deripaska over control of the Trekhgornaya Manufaktura property, a pre-revolutionary factory site, which has since been turned into a development with trendy lofts, restaurants and nightclubs.
The December 2010 raid was the “defining moment" of the dispute, Jonathan Crow, Chernukhin’s lawyer, said in court documents. The Basic Element group, some of whom were witnessed carrying pistols or had holsters inside their jackets, overpowered around 25 guards at the property, he said.
Also present during the operation was Arkady Sarkisyan, the billionaire’s alleged "enforcer," and a former officer in the Russian Navy, Crow said.
During his own cross-examination, Deripaska was asked whether he would use a man like Sarkisyan when he was expecting trouble. He replied: "In the 90s, yes."
The billionaire built his wealth by building an aluminum giant from the chaos of Russia’s aluminum wars in the 1990s, scooping up shares that had been issued to metalworkers as the Soviet Union collapsed into chaos.
Dmitry Novikov, the acting general director of the site, said Monday that Sarkisyan coordinated security for Deripaska until the early 2000s. In a witness statement, he said that Sarkisyan still worked with the Basic Element security team on occasion.
Still, the executive said he was surprised to see Sarkisyan in the camera footage of the operation. The navy veteran was overseeing the construction of projects at the Olympic Village in Sochi for which he was awarded an honor by the Russian state, Novikov said.
"If it was not for him,” the Olympic Village “would not have been completed on time," said Novikov, who testified as a witness for Deripaska.
Attempts to contact Sarkisyan were unsuccessful. A representative for Deripaska didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
Deripaska’s lawyer, Justin Fenwick, said that Chernukhin was trying to paint a “lurid picture" of the way that the “change of control took place." The allegations surrounding the events were "nonsense," he said.
Deripaska himself described the allegation as something like a "military operation," calling it a "pure fantasy."