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Berezovsky portrayed as 'Dr Evil', court told

CLAIMS that Boris Berezovsky went to meetings in a bathrobe and signed text messages as "Dr Evil" were invented by billionaire Roman Abramovich and his friends, Mr Berezovsky's lawyers argued as a lawsuit between the men drew to a close.

Both sides have accused each other of dishonesty and greed during the three-month trial in London. Over the next two days, Mr Berezovsky's lawyers have a last chance to discredit Chelsea Football Club owner Mr Abramovich (45), as they sum up the $6.8bn (€5.8bn) claim against him.

"The cynical manipulation of evidence and indeed of the trial process" by Mr Abramovich is one of the factors the judge should consider, counsel for Mr Berezovsky said yesterday.

Mr Berezovsky, now living in exile in London, claims Mr Abramovich used Kremlin connections to intimidate him into selling stakes in Russian oil and metal companies for far below their real value 10 years ago.

The trial ends this week after hundreds of hours of court time, millions of pounds in legal fees and witnesses ranging from kitchen staff to billionaires, such as United Co. Rusal Plc founder Oleg Deripaska.

Among the allegations made against Mr Berezovsky was a claim by Mr Deripaska that he arrived at a meeting in a London hotel in 2000 wearing a dressing gown.

The bathrobe testimony was "pure invention of the most cynical and unpleasant kind", the court heard, designed to portray Mr Berezovsky as a "godfather, rather than a businessman".

Mr Berezovsky (65), who built Russia's largest car dealership in the 1990s, fled the country in 2000 after falling out of favour with then-President Vladimir Putin.

Any decision by the judge, who isn't expected to rule for several weeks, could be appealed.

Irish Independent