in

Two key plaintiffs against metals tycoon Oleg Deripaska have backed out of a multibillion-dollar racketeering and corruption suit filed in a New York court. The suit, filed by nine companies linked to fugitive businessman Mikhail Zhivilo, was thrown out by the U.S. District Court this spring. The decision by plaintiffs Base Metal Trading and Alucoal Holdings to drop the appeal against the court’s ruling is a sign that Zhivilo may be focussing on larger, parallel suits filed in Stockholm.

With the withdrawal of Base Metal and Alucoal, the damages sought by the plaintiffs in New York from Deripaska’s Russian Aluminum have shrunk to $40 million from more than $2 billion.

Deripaska touted the news Wednesday as “the ultimate vindication.”

“Not only has the case been dismissed by the federal court in New York, but now even the plaintiffs themselves are afraid to go through with the appeal process,” Deripaska said in a statement. “It proves that the plaintiffs had no case to begin with.”

The plaintiffs claimed Deripaska orchestrated the 1999 bankruptcy of the Novokuznetsk aluminum smelter to wrest the plant’s management from Zhivilo. Zhivilo himself is wanted by Russian authorities in connection with a murder plot, which he says Deripaska has fabricated.

Zhivilo, in turn, accuses Deripaska of using bribery and death threats in the smelter acquisition.

He evidently hoped to benefit from the U.S. Racketeering-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. In March, however, a U.S. judge ruled the case not to be within his jurisdiction.

RusAl’s lead counsel Michael Burrows called the case “a transparent attempt to grab headlines.”

“Plaintiffs’ lurid descriptions of corruption, money laundering and mafia involvement are false and were made without a shred of evidence to support them,” he said.

Sergei Sokolov, managing partner with the Philadelphia-based Marks and Sokolov law firm, which represents the claimants, said it was difficult to say why his clients had pulled out in New York.

Sokolov added that they were hoping for a “quicker outcome” in other European courts. Alucoal Holdings and Base Metal Trading are also seeking to retrieve about $400 million each in damages before an international arbitration court in Sto

British MP George Galloway and his opponent the Daily Telegraph will leave no stone unturned to sort out what could be a spectacular libel case.

One of the authors claiming Dan Brown’s bestseller The Da Vinci Code copied his ideas has admitted he exaggerated his case in an interview with a journalist.