JSC VTB BANK v PAVEL SKURIKHIN & OTHERS –  EWHC 1407 (Comm)
This is a longstanding matter where PCB has acted for JSC VTB Bank (“VTB”) against Pavel Skurikhin who had given personal guarantees for loans made by VTB to his business. The business defaulted on the loans. VTB commenced proceedings and obtained judgments against Mr Skurikhin in the Russian Court. In 2014, it obtained judgments against Mr Skurikhin in the English Commercial Court to the value of approximately £20 million. These judgments are based on the common law claims arising from the Russian judgments.
By way of enforcement in July 2015, VTB successfully obtained an order for the appointment of Receivers over the membership interests in an English registered LLP that owns three properties based in Italy used and occupied by Mr Skurikhin and members of his family. Although the membership interests were held for the benefit of a Liechtenstein Foundation, Berenger, the Court was satisfied that Mr Skurikhin had sufficient control of the Liechtenstein Foundation that he could be treated as the owner of membership interests in the LLP and it could be said that they were assets available for enforcement.
The Court Receivers subsequently used their powers to place the English registered LLP into administration and have themselves appointed as Administrators so that they were in a position to realise its assets, particularly the three properties in Italy.
Three years later in July 2018, Berenger issued an application challenging and seeking a discharge of the Receivership Order on the basis that it is not in the control of Mr Skurikhin. VTB successfully opposed the application having previously obtained orders for disclosure from and cross-examination of the Swiss fiduciary and local director who set up and managed Berenger. In a judgment dated 12 June 2019, Patricia Robertson QC (sitting as Deputy High Court Judge) dismissed the application to discharge the order for the appointment of Receivers. She considered that the discharge application was an abuse of process given that the evidence relied upon for seeking to oppose the appointment of Receiver was available to Berenger at the time of the hearing in July 2015 and it had the opportunity to deploy that evidence against the application at that hearing.