Indictment of Private Investigators

TEL AVIV, Israel, September 20, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — On Sunday, Tel Aviv Magistrates Court charged two private investigators, Rafael Pridan and Maxim Gurevich, with the illegal wiretapping of Businessman Michael Cherney. The two had been hired by an aide to Russian aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska, Cherney’s ex-partner.

According to the indictment, in April 2007 Alexei Drobashenko (Director of the “Eurasian Group”, one of Deripaska’s companies) turned to a previously convicted Israeli radical activist Avigdor Eskin, with an offer to conduct a smear campaign to discredit Michael Cherney. Eskin has introduced Drobashenko to PIs Aviv Mor and Rafael Pridan who had been earlier stripped of his Private investigator license. From May to October 2007 Eskin, Mor, and Pridan met several times in Moscow with Drobashenko, who wanted to dig for any compromising information on Mr Cherney. The detectives conducted surveillance of Mr Cherney and illegal wiretaps of his line for about 6 months.

After being arrested in November 2007 Rafi Pridan was charged yesterday with illegal actions in private investigation, illegal wiretapping, and illegal use of obtained materials. Avi Mor, another private investigator involved, cut a deal with the Prosecution last January. For the illegal surveillance of Mr Cherney, he was sentenced to six months of communal service and eight months of suspended jail time.

Michael Cherney claims that a smear campaign against him was launched by his ex-partner in aluminum trading Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. In early 2007 Mr Cherney filed a suit in UK against Deripaska for $3 billion for violating their contract; Mr Cherney believes that this caused Deripaska to launch a smear campaign, including illegal wiretapping.

In February 2008 Mr Cherney filed a suit in Tel Aviv’s District Court against Deripaska and eight other people, demanding a compensation of 10 million shekels (about $3 million) for moral damages suffered in the smear campaign. Among the respondents are also Eurasian Group’s General Director Alexei Drobashenko and reporter Andrey Kalitin.

Contact: jmorgan@bell-pottinger.co.uk

SOURCE Michael Cherney Foundation

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