WASHINGTON — Three Russian oligarchs who said their reputations were tarnished by an opposition research brief examining Donald Trump’s ties to Russia have agreed to dismiss their defamation suit, according to a notice filed Friday in federal court .
Businessmen 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-founders of Russian bank Alfa Bank , claimed they were defamed by various statements in a Democratic-funded dossier Fusion had commissioned former British spy Christopher Steele to produce about Trump’s relationship with the Kremlin.
The Steele dossier has been widely discredited since its publication, with key aspects of the material exposed as unsubstantiated and unproven rumors. A special counsel investigating the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation accused one of Steele’s sources for the dossier of lying to the FBI, and also accused a cybersecurity lawyer who worked for the Hillary Clinton’s campaign of lying to the FBI during a 2016 investigative meeting where he raised concerns about Alfa Bank.
However, recent sanctions were filed against the oligarchs and the bank amid Russia’s war with Ukraine.
On Tuesday, Fusion GPS attorneys asked a federal judge to dismiss the case, noting that the penalties “illustrate in great detail that the alleged defamatory statements are true, and must surely persuade any reasonable trier of fact that none of these plaintiffs will never succeed in discharging their burden of proving that these statements are untrue.”
The UK included the three men in a series of sanctions this week, saying it was “going further and faster than ever in hitting those closest” to Russian President Vladimir Putin.