Sovcomflot-owned tanker company Novoship is heading to court again in a $91m case involving an alleged sex tape of a US oil tycoon.
It is suing Daniel Hall, a senior executive at Burford Capital, in London's high court, accusing him of unlawfully trading confidential documents for the footage, the Financial Times reported.
Hall, co-head of Burford’s global corporate intelligence, asset tracing and enforcement business, is alleged to have supplied “sensitive” documents obtained while working for Novoship.
He is accused of exchanging the documents for “video material of a sexual nature” relating to billionaire Harry Sargeant III, whose assets he was investigating for another client.
Novoship wants up to $91m from Hall and Burford as part of a wider case arising from its previous legal battle against Venezuelan businessman Wilmer Ruperti.
Companies owned by Ruperti are attempting to sue Novoship for between $53m and $91m for allegedly breaching a 2016 settlement agreement in a charter fraud case, the report said.
Novoship has denied liability and in turn blamed Hall and Burford for the alleged breach.
The Russian company had contracted Hall and given him access to a computer file containing “confidential” documents relating to Ruperti.
Novoship has argued that it should be compensated by Burford in full if it loses the Ruperti case.
Burford’s defence filing said it was not liable to Novoship for any loss or damages and said “the relevant information was in the public domain and was otherwise not private and confidential”.
The 2016 settlement involved Ruperti's Sea Pioneer Shipping and sister company PMI Trading.
The UK court battle had raged even after Novoship won a $59.2m 2012 fraud judgement against Ruperti and even after he agreed to switch sides and aid Sovcomflot in a related fraud case that reduced the amount to $40m.
The amount of money paid in final settlement was not disclosed.
Ruperti agreed to testify against private Russian shipowner Yuri Nikitin and former Novoship general manager Vladimir Mikhaylyuk in Novoship's fraud case against them.
Burford hits back
Christopher Bogart, chief executive of Burford, said in a statement: “It is not uncommon for Burford to find itself involved in litigation relating to matters that it has financed, and this case is no exception; this is simply part of Burford’s business.
"This is not a case against Burford; rather, the claim is brought by Wilmer Ruperti against Novoship, and Burford’s only involvement is that Novoship has claimed that if it is found liable to Ruperti then Burford should step in and indemnify it.
“Burford believes that the main claim here is meritless and that Novoship’s indemnity claim is also meritless, and the subject of a prior litigation release.”
Law firm Reed Smith is representing Novoship, while Grosvenor Law is representing Ruperti.
Hall declined to provide an additional comment to Bogart’s.
A spokesman for Sargeant III declined to comment.