Russian businesman lodges London libel claim over Mineweb.com

Russian businessman Sergey Generalov and two private equity management companies have launched a legal battle for libel damages against editor Lawrence Williams and a South African website.

Generalov, a former Russian minister for fuel and energy, and his two companies say they have been libelled by four stories on the mineweb.com website. One company, Industrial Investors Capital Management, is based in London and belongs to the International Business Leaders’ Forum, an organisation promoting sustainable business development, co-founded by the Prince of Wales.

Generalov and his companies complain that the stories have damaged their reputation and goodwill, while Generalov says his personal and public reputation have been greatly injured, and that he has been embarrassed and distressed.

They are suing editor Williams and Moneyweb Holdings over a story headed ‘Zod gold mines showdown – Sterlite license in revocation hearing”, which meant that they had financed and enabled the Georgian president Michael Saakashville to corruptly transfer ownership of the hugely profitable Georgian state mining corporation Madneuli to his uncle at a low price, they say. This, they claim, meant they had been guilty of financing thefts of assets including gold from the Georgian people.

Generalov and his companies are also suing over another website story which appeared last August, headed ‘Saakashvilli shootdown – Georgian President behind Russian funding for gold grab in warzone”.

This story accuses them of bankrolling the Georgian president in his corrupt transfer of the mining corporation to his uncle at a low price, and were guilty of financing his theft of assets, and were close business partners of his corrupt leader, according to a High court writ.

The two other stories at the centre of their claim were headed ‘Generalov looks to be Russian for great generosity to Georgian goldminer’and ‘Madneuli takeover of Zod Gold in doubt”.

Generalov, who lives in Moscow, is demanding aggravated damages, and says he is seriously embarrassed by the allegation that he and his company had chosen to support an enemy of Russia – their chief business place – and had acted against Russian interests.

They accuse London-based Lawrence Williams of failing to put the allegations to them before publication, and say that he deliberately chose not to do so because he and his website did not want to risk an inconvenient denial of the allegations, which would have spoilt their story.

Generalov and the two companies wrote last November seeking immediate withdrawal of the articles, and publication of a correction and apology, but say that the website refused to even acknowledge their claim, thus treating them with contempt.

Now they are seeking damages and aggravated damages, and an injunction preventing the repetition of the allegations.

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