LONDON (Reuters) - The estate of late Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who helped broker Vladimir Putin's rise to the Kremlin's top job only to become his sworn enemy, is hopelessly insolvent, a British judge has said.
A fast-talking former mathematician who scaled the heights of the ruthless world of post-Soviet business and politics, Berezovsky clashed with Putin soon after his election in 2000 and fled to Britain where he became his most vociferous enemy.
Once cast as the 'godfather of the Kremlin' by foes and admirers alike, Berezovsky was humiliated in 2012 when he lost a legal battle with former partner Roman Abramovich, over shares in Russia's fourth biggest oil company.
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Berezovsky, at one point ranked as a billionaire by Forbes, made his fortune in cars, airlines, metals and oil. He was found dead in 2013 in a locked bathroom at his home in England. He was 67.
Judge Richard Arnold said about 34 million pounds ($45 million) remained in Berezovsky's estate but that creditors' claims run into hundreds of millions of pounds, the Press Association reported.
"About £34 million remains, subject to the payment of bankruptcy and administration expenses, including legal costs, out of this sum," Arnold was quoted as saying in the ruling. "This sum is currently the estate's only substantial asset.
"Since the estate has substantial creditors running into hundreds of millions of pounds, it is hopelessly insolvent," he said.
The ruling was made as part of litigation involving insolvency trustees and Berezovsky's former partner Elena Gorbunova.
Berezovsky came to symbolize the adrenaline-fueled life of Russia's top oligarchs who accumulated - and sometimes lost - enormous fortunes in the chaos which followed the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Giles Elgood)