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WFW obtains committal order and 21 month prison sentence against AS Nazarov

23 February 2016

Leading international law firm Watson, Farley & Williams (“WFW”) has successfully obtained a committal order and warrant for the arrest of Tajik businessman Mr Avaz Saidovich Nazarov on behalf of Vis Trading Co (“Vis Trading”).

In 2013 WFW successfully represented Vis Trading in its claim against Mr Nazarov and others in a claim for US$35 million which concerned the non-payment of a series of loans and issues relating to loss of security. Following an unsuccessful appeal by the second defendants (Mr Nazarov’s company, Ansol Limited), WFW has been engaged in seeking disclosure in relation to Mr Nazarov’s assets to aid enforcement of the judgment on behalf of Vis Trading in a number of jurisdictions around the world. After Mr Nazarov failed to comply with an English court orders requiring him to disclose information about his assets, Vis Trading sought his committal for contempt of court.

In a judgment handed down by High Court judge Mrs Justice Whipple at the end of 2015, Mr Nazarov was found to have been in contempt of court for serious past and continuing breach of the disclosure order. Following a two day sentencing hearing which took place earlier this month (during which Mr Nazarov was cross examined by video link from Uzbekistan), Mrs Justice Whipple handed down a further judgment reiterating her earlier findings of contempt and sentencing Mr Nazarov to 21 months imprisonment.

In considering Mr Nazarov’s credibility, Mrs Justice Whipple noted that “the First Defendant has demonstrated his willingness to give false answers to the Court when it suits him. I do not find the Defendant to be a credible litigant or witness”. She further noted that “the Defendant is a person who has a propensity to disregard the rules set by the Court. He has failed to produce evidence to me at the right time…. He has breached the freezing order…. He does not apologise for these failures but seeks to excuse them in ways I find to be implausible. This leads me to conclude that he pays little heed to Court orders.”

Although Mr Nazarov is not currently within the jurisdiction, Mrs Justice Whipple nevertheless rejected arguments that the imposition of a sentence would be futile, holding that the court could not just stand by in the face of disobedience to its orders and that, despite some modest attempts to comply, Mr Nazarov remains in serious and continuing breach.

The London-based WFW International Litigation & Arbitration team advising Vis Trading was led by partner Robert Platt, assisted by associates Tiana Morales and Natasha Shoult.

Robert commented: “In circumstances where Mr Nazarov has not yet paid a penny of the Judgment sum to our client and has repeatedly failed to comply with Orders of the English Court in these proceedings since Judgment was handed down some three years ago, we are pleased to have achieved this result for our client which demonstrates the English Court’s refusal to tolerate such conduct.”

Alexander Gunning QC and Rangan Chatterjee of 4 Pump Court appeared as Counsel on behalf of Vis Trading Co. Ltd.

Addendum: In February 2018, WFW successfully represented VIS Trading in obtaining an extension to the enforceability period of the warrant of committal against Mr Nazarov, to 5 February 2020.