(Bloomberg) -- Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska was repeatedly accused of lying as he gave evidence at a London court in a lawsuit with an ex-business partner who’s trying to have him jailed.

Speaking from Moscow via video link, Deripaska denied he was being dishonest over the 2018 preparations for a transfer of shares of his holding company back to Russia. He’s fighting to avoid potential imprisonment over allegations that he broke a promise to ensure millions of dollars of shares would remain available as security.

Deripaska, who was separately sanctioned by the UK in March last year for his connections with the Kremlin, would have been unable to pay expenses including his hotel bill if he flew to London to give evidence in person, his lawyers said Tuesday. They also said he feared arrest over separate US charges from last year.

The London court testimony is raking over the events that led to the tycoon giving up control in his shares in En+ Group International PJSC, one of the largest Russian conglomerates and the holding company for the top aluminum producer, following US sanctions in 2018. It was an effort orchestrated by Greg Barker, an English aristocrat and former public relations specialist, Deripaska said.

“I understood there was no other way out and I trusted the management and Lord Barker,” the billionaire said, speaking in Russian through an interpreter. His companies were in a “dire situation” at the time, he said.

The sell down and transfer of shares is part of a long-running and bitter dispute between the billionaire and Vladimir Chernukhin, whose wife is one of the largest donors to the UK’s Conservative Party. Chernukhin says that Deripaska broke court undertakings relating to his shares in En+ that Chernukhin alleges were put “beyond the reach of the court” by re-domiciling to “fortress Russia.”

Deripaska counters that Chernukhin, the former business partner who jointly developed a valuable Moscow property until their relationship soured, is seeking to have Deripaska jailed “out of spite.” Deripaska eventually paid the $95 million award, but still faces the contempt application.

Deripaska’s lawyers said Chernukhin knew about the plan to move En+ from Jersey to Kaliningrad and that the transfer would have have enabled the oligarch to potentially cash out the shares and pay Chernukhin. Without the transfer, the shares in En+ would have had no value, his lawyers said.

“There was no love lost between the two,” Chernukhin’s lawyer, Jonathan Crow, said.

As the testimony ended, Deripaska apologized for not getting “clarification” from the court before the shareholder vote to transfer En+’s shares to Russia. It was a “genuine regret,” he said.

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