Billionaire sues Russian banker after ‘thief’ claim

The aluminum magnate wants his fellow mogul to pay $35 million for libel

Billionaire Oleg Deripaska, founder of aluminum giant Rusal and once Russia’s richest man, has filed a lawsuit against banking tycoon Oleg Tinkov, RBK reported on Monday.

The lawsuit was filed for offensive remarks that Tinkov, who set up one of Russia’s largest private banks, posted on Instagram earlier this year.

“Tinkov wrote that Oleg Vladimirovich [Deripaska] is a very bad person, looted the Russian economy… I just don’t want to quote more precisely, so as not to spread even more widely insulting and unreliable information,” Deripaska’s lawyer, Alexey Melnikov, told RBC.

Deripaska is demanding that the post be removed, as well as 2-billion-ruble ($35 million) compensation for moral and reputational damage. Meta Platforms, the owner of Instagram, is named as a co-defendant because the court’s decision to remove the information may affect the rights of the company, the lawyer added.

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“Mr. Tinkov’s statements are an attempt to flirt with a Western audience, made to correct the consequences of his carelessly voiced opinion and to rebuild his reputation. But doing so at the expense of others by resorting to outright lies is unacceptable. You have to be responsible for what you say,” Melnikov said, adding that as Tinkov’s audience is very large, the information he posted “has nothing to do with freedom of speech” and can have “very real consequences.” 

According to Melnikov, Deripaska plans to use his compensation to finance charity projects, in particular, for the development of children’s sports infrastructure across Russia.

The banker’s offensive comments were a reply in a thread to a post referring to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, published in April. One person compared Tinkov with Deripaska and the Bank of Russia’s head, Elvira Nabiullina, to which Tinkov replied: “But Deripaska is an oligarch and a thief, and I am an honest businessman.”

The court hearing on the case is scheduled for August 16.

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