London, Oct.7 (ANI): Exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky has claimed that his former prot?g?e Roman Abramovich was not clever enough to build his own business empire without him.
Berezovsky, a former applied maths professor, was giving evidence for the first time against the owner of Chelsea Football Club, who began life as a mechanic, in a case in which he is suing Abramovich for 3.5 billion pounds.
Berezovsky, 65, claims he was forced to sell his business interests in Russia at a knock-down price in December 2000 or face the wrath of Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader, in a "blackmail" plot masterminded by Abramovich, 44.
Abramovich claims that Berezovsky did not have any shares in Sibneft, the oil and gas conglomerate they established together and added that he paid him 800 million pounds only for wielding political influence with the Kremlin, The Telegraph reports.
The court heard that in the mid-1990s, Berezovsky became part of the inner circle of Boris Yeltsin, who was then the president, thanks to his close relationship with the president's daughter, Tatiana, and her husband.
He said the group was known as "the family" and he was the first businessman to be invited to join the presidential tennis club.
Asked what were the factors behind his political influence, Berezovsky, told the High Court: "I think the main reason, it's my intellectual capacity."
Jonathan Sumption QC for Abramovich asked if his client had any chance of building a business empire without political patronage and Berezovsky told him in broken English: "It depends how smart he is, not how much leverage he gets. To get leverage, you need to be smart, he's not so [smart] and it's the reason he didn't get [leverage at] that time."
Berezovsky added in his witness statement that Mr Abramovich was "good at getting people to like him" and "good at psychology". (ANI)