WASHINGTON — Three Russian oligarchs who say their reputations have been tarnished by an opposition research dossier examining Donald Trump’s ties to Russia have agreed to dismiss their defamation lawsuit, according to the Washington Post. a notice was filed in federal court on Friday.
Entrepreneurs Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan sued Fusion GPS, a research and intelligence company, and one of its founders, Glenn Simpson, in 2017. The men, co-founder of Russia-based Alfa Bank, alleged that they were smeared by various statements in a Democratic-sponsored filing that Fusion commissioned former British spy Christopher Steele, on the relationship between Trump and the Kremlin.
The Steele dossier has largely been discredited since it was published, with core aspects of the document exposed as unsupported and unproven rumors. A special counsel tasked with investigating the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation accused one of Steele’s sources in the dossier of lying to the FBI and also charged a cybersecurity lawyer who had worked for the company. Hillary Clinton’s campaign lied to the FBI in 2016 during a meeting in which he relayed concerns about Alfa Bank.
But recent sanctions imposed on oligarchs and banks amid Russia’s war with Ukraine may have complicated their path to defamation.
On Tuesday, Fusion GPS lawyers asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit, noting that the sanctions “illustrate in great detail that the alleged defamation statements are true.” true and certainly must convince any reasonable person that no Plaintiff will succeed in meeting their responsibility to prove these statements false.”
The UK put all three in a round of sanctions this week, saying it “goes further and faster than ever in hitting those closest to” Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Finance Ministry last month sanctioned Alfa Bank and other Russian financial institutions, and the EU sanctioned Aven and Fridman.
Alfa Bank said that Fridman and Aven had resigned from the board and Khan had left the list of beneficiaries.
The oligarchs offered no explanation for the dismissal, but their attorney said in a single judgment on Friday that both sides had provided that the court action be “rejected with prejudice against all claims, causes of action and the parties, each to bear. its own attorneys’ fees and expenses.” An attorney for the plaintiffs was not immediately resend a message seeking comment.
Joshua Levy, an attorney for Fusion GPS and Simpson, said in a statement “we are pleased that the plaintiffs decided to drop their case after 4.5 years of unnecessary litigation.”
“Essentially, the tycoon owners of Alfa Bank took issue with the remark that they were close to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and amassed incredible wealth through that association.” statement continued. “The official statements explaining the recent economic sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United Kingdom against the plaintiffs, we believe, confirm that fact.”