Welsh Pals Mourn 'Russian Oligarchy' Air Crash Victim

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 6, 2004 | Go to article overview

Welsh Pals Mourn 'Russian Oligarchy' Air Crash Victim


Byline: By Robin Turner Western Mail

A former Aberystwyth University law student who rose to head a major Russian oil company has been killed in a mysterious air crash.

Steve Curtis, 45, and his pilot died when his private helicopter crashed into a field in Bournemouth on Wednesday night.

Mr Curtis was the managing director of the Menatep Group, which has assets of $30bn and which is a major shareholder in Russia's embattled oil giant Yukos.

He had close links to Russian tycoons Roman Abramo- vich, the billionaire Chelsea FC owner, and Boris Berezovsky, Britain's richest refugee.

Mr Curtis acted as lawyer to Mr Berezovsky, who was granted asylum in Britain after being accused of fraud in Russia, and other UK-based oligarchs who oppose Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Yesterday, Dave Daycock, Swansea City and County Council's lead solicitor - a close friend of Mr Curtis since their student days at Aberystwyth University - said he was shocked at the news.

Mr Daycock said, 'Steve was a larger-than-life character who will be sorely missed.

'Our thoughts go out to his wife and his young daughter Louise.

'He had a great business and legal brain and built up an international law practice with contacts around the globe.

'He never forgot his friends in Wales - and those who went to Aberystwyth with him between 1976 and 1979, particularly those in Carpenter Hall, will never forget him.'

Mr Daycock said there were plans for him and other old college friends to travel (in the helicopter which crashed) to the England v Wales rugby match later this month.

The death of keen rugby fan Mr Curtis is being looked at closely by British police and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch. …

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