Ilya Rybalkin is the key partner in Akin Gump’s Moscow office in connection with Russia-related dispute resolution. His practice focuses on large-scale commercial cross border disputes, fraud litigation, investigations and reputation recovery matters. He also advises major Russian and international clients on corporate activity, especially those having a significant litigation component.

Practice & Background

Mr. Rybalkin has substantial experience representing clients in complex corporate disputes and developing legal strategies in connection with international litigation and arbitration; internal investigations relating to allegations of corruption; cross border, white-collar crime matters; and regulatory investigations and enforcement matters, as well as investigations regarding improper dealings with public officials. He advises clients in a wide range of industries, including oil and gas, mining, energy, retail, real estate and media.

Valuable experience and deep knowledge obtained through his corporate and tax engagements, as well as recognized skills in negotiation, have ensured that Mr. Rybalkin has earnt an outstanding reputation among clients and has become a highly valued strategic counsel by providing clients with excellent service.

In addition, Mr. Rybalkin has significant experience advising on corporate issues in cross-border mergers and acquisitions, as well as corporate restructurings with a significant contentious component. He has served as lead counsel on many large-scale transactions that have taken place in, or been related to, Russian entities in recent years.

Mr. Rybalkin’s credibility and depth of knowledge in relation to Russian and international fraud and asset tracing litigation is appreciated by clients. Clients and leading legal directories note that Mr. Rybalkin “can be relied on to solve complicated issues promptly”.

Representative Matters

Mr. Rybalkin’s recent engagements include:

Dispute resolution

  • representing PJSC Tatneft, Russia’s fifth biggest oil company, in US$500 million English litigation proceedings and a freezing injunction application in High Court against four Ukrainian oligarchs – Messrs. Igor Kolomoysky, Gennady Bogolyubov, Pavel Ovcharenko and Alexander Yaroslavsky – in relation to huge and complex alleged cross-border fraudulent activities. In October 2017, Tatneft secured an unanimous victory in the Court of Appeal which reverses an earlier judgment handed down by the High Court in November 2016. The Appeal Court found that the claim by PJSC Tatneft should not have been dismissed by the High Court. The defendants sought further appeal directly from the UK Supreme Court, which, in March 2018, upheld the Court of Appeal ruling. This case is now proceeding to trial
  • representing Renova Industries, one of the Alfa-Access-Renova consortium members, on strategic issues related to a shareholder dispute with BP plc connected with the announced Arctic deal-and-share swap
  • representing Renova Industries in relation to two sets of disputes and arbitration proceedings connected to the management and operation of TNK–BP
  • counselling Renova Industries in U.S. legal proceedings initiated against a private individual for unjustified enrichment
  • representing one of the shareholders in OJSC MegaFon, in developing and implementing a litigation strategy in relation to an imposed business combination affecting its shareholder rights and which potentially violates Russian regulations
  • representing a prominent Russian businessman in BIT arbitration proceedings against a Baltic country, to protect his investments in the financial sector
  • representing a Russian industrial group in relation to an unfair prejudice and competition claim involving a Western mining giant
  • representing a Russian mining company in a significant victory through the annulment by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court of a multimillion-dollar arbitration award against the company
  • representing a prominent Russian entrepreneur in significant white collar litigation in which the client faced serious allegations of dishonest business practice and money laundering by the finance intelligence unit of an Eastern African country. All charges were withdrawn and the dispute settled because the client accepted our strategy to initiate bilateral investment treaty arbitration against this country

Asset tracing and recovery

  • representing a large Russian energy company in an asset recovery case worth more than US$1 billion with respect to a complex international fraud and corruption case involving eight jurisdictions
  • representing one of the world’s largest metal companies in an asset tracing and recovery case against a former executive officer of the company who embezzled in excess of US$50 million
  • representing a consortium of Russian power companies in connection with the investigation and recovery of a multimillion-dollar debt relating to the unlawful activities of the management and shareholders of the Energostream group
  • advising a leading Russian mining company in relation to the embezzlement and laundering of tens of millions of U.S. dollar company funds by former top managers; the investigation involved multiple jurisdictions (Belize, Cyprus, Switzerland, Panama and the United States) and a number of civil and criminal actions against the wrongdoers, and resulted in almost a full recovery of misappropriated funds
  • representing a sovereign wealth fund of one of the CIS countries in connection with an investigation into the activities of the managers of certain mining and finance companies, as well as additional U.S., UK and Swiss litigation to identify and recover the misappropriated assets/money
  • advising the shareholders of a leading Russian real estate developer in connection with the investigation into fraud committed by the controlling shareholder; and representing shareholders in the UK, Cyprus and U.S. relation to litigation, arbitration and immigration proceedings
  • representing a well-known Ukrainian businessman in a number of proceedings in the U.S. and UK courts in connection with the alleged fraudulent obtaining of, and failing to repay, loans from one of the largest international banks.

Crisis Management

  • providing strategic advice to the shareholders and senior management of one of the largest consumer electronics retailers in Russia, which has been subject to several hostile takeover attempts
  • providing strategic advice and guidance to the treasury unit of a Russian business group with significant investments in a Russian fertilization business; separately, the same treasury unit was advised into potential investigations by government and financial regulators, in several jurisdictions, associated with ‎the managed investments portfolio in stock and financial instruments
  • representing a prominent Russian businessman as the subject of a financial regulation authority investigation by a Baltic country associated with the collapse and nationalization of a major local bank
  • providing strategic advice and guidance to senior management of a Russian business group whose principal was the subject of a widely publicized criminal investigation by Russian authorities
  • advising senior management of a Russian mining giant facing a massive class action claim ‎in foreign courts for alleged dishonest business practices and financial manipulations
  • representing a trading arm of a leading Russian metals producer in relation to Swiss criminal, arbitration and civil matters instigated by its partner to avoid payments under a very significant off-take contract
  • representing a leading financial and industrial group in an investigation into potential civil and criminal claims and to provide advice in connection with EU and U.S. sanctions relating to Crimea.

Corporate/M&A transactions

  • representing Renova as a member of the Alfa-Access-Renova (AAR) consortium in relation to the sale of AAR’s stake in TNK-BP to Rosneft for an all-cash consideration of US$28 billion
  • representing Renova on the sale of 100 percent of shares in its logistics and storage business, Multinational Logistics Partnership (MLP), one of Russia and Ukraine’s largest and most successful logistics operators, and on the consolidation of Renova’s shareholding in MLP
  • representing MMC Norilsk Nickel in connection with the US$970 million sale of its shares in Stillwater Mining Company

Awards & Accolades

Mr. Rybalkin and his achievements in various disciplines have been recognized by the leading independent legal publications and directories, including:

  • The Best Lawyers 2018 – ranked among the top Corporate, M&A, Energy and Natural Resources and Tax lawyers in Russia
  • The Legal 500 EMEA 2018 – recommended for the firm’s dispute resolution practice
  • Chambers Global 2009 - 2017 – ranked among top Corporate, M&A lawyers in Russia
  • Chambers Europe 2017 – ranked among the top Corporate, M&A and Tax lawyers in Russia
  • The Best Lawyers 2010-2017 – ranked among top Corporate, M&A and Tax lawyers in Russia.