Roman Abramovich Wins Libel Case After Claims He Lost Yacht Playing PokerMarch 18, 2010 9:34 am
A May 2009 news article in Italian newspaper La Repubblica, entitled “A black year for Abramovich as he loses a yacht at poker,” have now been proved false and have resulted in a public apology, as well as substantial damages being awarded to Mr Abramovich at the High Court in London.
Solicitor for the Russian billionaire and Chelsea FC owner, John Kelly said that his client had suffered “distress and embarrassment” after the patently false and damaging story was printed by the newspaper’s publisher, Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso. He also expressed regret that the report was not put to Mr Abramovich first, before the paper decided to go with the story and that if they had done “the defendant would have been advised of the utter falsity of the allegations.”
As Mr Kelly explained, the article originally claimed Roman Abramovich had “suffered a heavy loss in a poker game and had been forced to hand over a luxury yacht worth half a million euros to cover his gambling debt. The report also alleged that Mr Abramovich’s poker playing had led to a crisis with his long-term partner Dasha Zhukova and that Mr Abramovich was now gambling online.”
Following the High Court ruling, Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso solicitor Sarah Toolan said her client “offers its sincere apologies to Mr Abramovich for the distress and embarrassment this article has caused. The defendant accepts that the allegations are untrue and ought never to have been published.”
The amount of money awarded by the court is undisclosed but said to be substantial. Mr Abramovich said he would donate all the money awarded to charity.
Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich was born on October 24, 1966 to a Jewish family in Lithuania. After a stint in the Soviet Army as a soldier, he started selling plastic ducks from his Moscow apartment and within a few years had invested his earnings in everything from oil companies to pig farms. He has since become one of the world’s richest men and is currently worth around £11 billion.