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Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is alleged to have paid billions of dollars for protection as well as political favours in order to amass his fortune, according to The Times...

Quoting from a 52-page court document from Abramovich's battle with old mentor and fellow oligarch Boris Berezovsky, The Times claims that the billionaire paid older oligarchs so he could by their shares in Russia's oil and aluminium assets and emerge from the break-up of the Soviet Union with a vast fortune.

These 'aluminium wars' that led to gangland violence that claimed over 100 lives, but as a result, Abramovich is now worth an estimated £11.4 billion.

Abramovich is being sued at London Commercial Court, with 62-year-old Berezovsky claiming he was forced to sell his shares in Sibneft, Rusal and ORT - oil, aluminium and TV companies respective - at bargain prices, from which Abramovich has now profited.

The court papers state that the Chelsea owner has accused Berezovsky, as well as the late Badri Patarkatsishvili or Georgia, of demanding money to help him emerge from obscurity.

"Prior to the August 1995 decree, the defendant informed Mr Berezovsky that he wished to acquire a controlling interest in Sibneft on its creation," stated the defence papers.

"In return for the defendant agreeing to provide Mr Berezovsky with funds he required in connection with the cash flow of ORT, Mr Berezovsky agreed he would use his personal and political influence to support the project and assist in the passage of the necessary legislative steps leading to the creation of Sibneft."

Abramovich paid $500 million to Patarkatsishvili to protect him from the aluminium wars and the Chelsea chief has admitted he owes his success to the Georgian.

The papers read: "Mr Patarkatsishvili did ... provide assistance to the defendant in the defendant's acquisition of assets in the Russian aluminium industry."

The Times reports that Patarkatsishvili, who died aged 52 from a heart disease, was an infamous middle-man with organised crime. The court papers contend that the diseased confronted Abramovich at a Swiss airport, demanding he pay $1.3 billion to Berezovsky.

"The defendant agreed to pay this amount on the basis that it would be the final request for payment by Mr Berezovsky and that he and Mr Patarkatsishvili would cease to associate themselves publicly with him and his business interests," they read.

John Mann, a spokesman for Abramovich and Millhouse Capital, told AFP: "It is an ongoing matter. While the case is ongoing, we won't be making any comments on it."

Berezovsky has confirmed that the paper's account of the court documents was accurate, but would not confirm if the court documents themselves were accurate. "It's not my job, it's the job of my lawyers."

Chet Winter, Goal.com

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