Russian billionaires are hitting back after they say they were
defamed by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS. The
Russians’ lawsuit says the dossier’s assertions “falsely
accuse” the three and Alfa “of criminal conduct and alleged
cooperation with the ‘Kremlin’ to influence the 2016
presidential election.” It says Fusion recklessly spread the
charges to journalists.
GPS FEELS THE KARMA:
GPS, the producer of the infamous fake Trump dossier, is fending
off in court three of Russia’s richest oligarchs by painting
them as corrupt bankers in bed with President Vladimir Putin.
primary investors in Moscow’s Alfa Bank — Mikhail Fridman, Petr
Aven and German Khan — filed a libel lawsuit against Fusion in
October. Fusion’s dossier, written by former British spy
Christopher Steele, says two of them engineered cash bribes to
Mr. Putin. The dossier also implies that the bank colluded with
Mr. Putin to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election by
hacking Democratic Party computers.
lawsuit describes the three billionaires as international
businessmen who became “collateral damage” in Fusion’s war to
destroy the Donald Trump campaign.
a defamation case brought by three international businessmen who
were defamed in widely disseminated political research reports
commissioned by political opponents of candidate Donald Trump in
the 2016 presidential election cycle,” says a Dec. 12 filing in
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
reports are gravely damaging in that, directly or by
implication, they falsely accuse the plaintiffs — and Alfa, a
consortium in which the plaintiffs are investors — of criminal
conduct and alleged cooperation with ‘Kremlin’ to influence the
2016 presidential election,” says the complaint by the New York
law firm Carter Ledyard & Milburn.
responded in court by relying on Wikipedia and its press
citations to paint a dark picture of three oligarchs who, the
media say, capitalized on Russia’s freewheeling post-communism
era to engage in financial scandals.
Fusion depicted the three as publicity-seeking financial titans
who are public figures under U.S. law.
private citizens, public figures face a high bar in libel
lawsuits. In this case, the Russian businessmen, if deemed
public figures, must prove that Fusion spread the dossier
charges with malice — meaning the opposition research firm knew
its accusations were untrue or showed reckless disregard for the
Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan are three of the most
prominent oligarchs in Russian history,” the Fusion memo states.
“With their incredible wealth and political power, each has had
a pronounced influence on the economic and political affairs of
Russia. … Any search returns an avalanche of articles about
their business endeavors, their wealth, their political and
economic power, their close relationship with the Kremlin and
is Mr. Steele’s September 2016 writings devoted to Alfa (which
he wrongly spells Alpha), one of 17 memos making up the dossier
from June to December 2016.
that the Alfa Bank paid “illicit cash” directly from Mr. Fridman
and Mr. Aven to Mr. Putin via Oleg Govorun, now a senior Kremlin
figure, “throughout the 1990s.”
Govorun’s official resume states that he was an executive for
Alfa only from 1997 to 2000.
Steele titled the September memo, “Presidential Election:
Kremlin-Alpha Group Co-Operation.” READ MORE: WT