The government of Bermuda has asked the country’s Supreme Court to place locally-based investment firm IPOC into liquidation as a result of an audit of its finances. A Prime Tass report, which cites Bermuda’s Royal Gazette, says the country’s Finance Minister wants the court to liquidate IPOC and eight of its affiliates. IPOC is the owner of an 8% stake in Russia’s third largest cellular operator MegaFon and is also at the centre of a row over the ownership of another 25.1% stake.
On 5 August 2003 Alfa-Eco, a part of the Alfa Group, acquired LV Finance, which owned 25.1% of MegaFon through two companies — Transcontinental Mobile Investment and CT-Mobile. In September the following year an international tribunal ruled that Bermuda-based mutual fund IPOC International should have been given first option to buy LV Finance’s stake as an existing shareholder. In March 2005 MegaFon’s other shareholders, TeliaSonera and Telecominvest, signed an agreement with IPOC to say they would strengthen their working relationship and ensure transparency in MegaFon’s business. All three were jointly refuting the claim made by the Alfa Group that it had an interest in MegaFon. However, in September 2005 a court of appeals in the British Virgin Islands ruled that Alfa did after all have a right to the stake and this was upheld by an arbitration tribunal in Zurich. IPOC is continuing its legal battle to have its option agreement validated so that it can claim the 25.1% stake.