A chauffeur charged with stealing a diamond ring from a billionairess friend of Princess Beatrice walked free from court when his accusers refused to give evidence after allegations of prostitute and drug use.
Socialite Veronica Chou, whose father Silas is a Hong Kong billionaire textile baron, had claimed that chauffeur Irfan Zayee had stolen a £167,000 diamond ring from her and her husband, Russian businessman Evgeny Klyucharev.
But the court was told that Mr Klyucharev tried to pay Mr Zayee £30,000 hush money to keep quiet about his sordid secret life of call girls and drugs.
In legal argument, the judge asked Mr Klyucharev to come to court to confirm or deny that texts and video in which proved he used escorts and took party drug GHB were genuine.
He admitted that it was all true, but when it emerged that all of this evidence could be put to a jury as ‘bad character’ both he and his wife withdrew their witness statements.
The prosecution then offered no evidence and Mr Zayee, who always claimed that he was selling the ring on behalf of Mr Klyucharev, walked free.
The court was told that Mr Klyucharev’s lifestyle was known to his wife and that in his circles his behaviour was ‘normal’.
The couple, who live in London, New York and Hong Kong, were married in a lavish ceremony at the Wan Chai Grand Hyatt hotel in 2012, attended by celebrities including the Duchess of York.
Veronica Chou, who is also a pal of US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka, was president of brand management company, Iconix China which she sold before having twins.
Blackfriars Crown Court heard during the three-day pre-trial hearing Mr Klyucharev, founder of Key Asset Holding, regularly used escorts and took party drugs such as GHB – known as liquid ecstasy.
It also emerged that his wife had concerns at his driving their nanny and playing with their children whilst under the influence of the drug.
Dominic D’Souza defending told the court there were around 130 pages of messages between Mr Klyucharev and his client that showed he regularly ordered sex workers for his boss.
He said: “One of the messages says the woman ‘Miriam’ is ‘just a friend from Miami, I paid her £5,000 for a night, can we negotiate a discount?’.
“There are messages about the Amar Escort Agency and messages to the defendant. It says he has obtained these services for him and he’s done it in the past.
“I’m not suggesting he’s lying, it may very well be he’s had so many prostitutes he’s forgotten who’s who.
“There are videos of Mr Klyucharev in various stages of GHB intoxication. They are salacious and embarrassing and we have no desire to catch him by surprise.
“He should see these messages and videos and reconsider what he says. He says in his social circles it’s acceptable to do this.”
Judge Sally Cahill QC said: “His statements suggests it is normal in his circles to have relationships with other women, none of it would come as a surprise to his wife and he accepts he regularly uses the services of escorts with the knowledge of his wife and obtained these services with the help of your client (the defendant).”
The court heard some of the messages go back to 2014 and also included messages from Ms Chou to the defendant about her concerns her husband was using GHB whilst looking after their children and driving their nanny.
Mr D’Souza said: “Mr Klyucharev says this is acceptable in their circles and his wife is aware, but he’s looking after children and driving the nanny.
“Mr Zayee has text messages from Ms Chou saying she is concerned her husband is on GHB driving and playing with children. If social services were told I’m sure she would be concerned about that.”
The precious stone is so unique it is the only one in the world and has to be registered with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in California and comes with a certificate of authentication.
Zayee went to a jewellers in Finchley, north London, on March 10 last year, where he gave his name, passport and date of birth.
The gem was then taken to Antwerp to be valued before being sold to a company called ABC Ltd in America then onto another firm, DEF, in May, who then had it valued themselves and found it was flagged as stolen.
But police were not told the 6.29 carat graded emerald cut diamond had been found until August when they were contacted by the Finchley jeweller – John Williams.
The case was then reopened and Zayee was charged with one count of theft and one of fraud by false representation when he took it to the jewellers to be sold.
The court heard a law firm called Neumans LLP acted for the Klyucharevs and also failed to tell police the gem had been found in America.
Mr D’Souza added: “It’s not a simple theft, it’s far more complicated than that.
“The officer said in May that without anything further from the victims the investigation was closed.
“Three months later the diamond was all over the GIA and Mr Klyucharev wanted to start civil proceedings in America in respect of that diamond.
“The officer says they regard her as deceitful and do not know why she hadn’t told them it had been recovered in New York in May and returned to Ms Chou.
“The only reason she wouldn’t have told them is she wants the diamond and not the prosecution.
“The police had only been told about the fact the diamond had been recovered from ABC Ltd by the jeweller, Mr Williams.
“However over the next three months nobody says anything, it’s only by the sheer fact Mr Williams speaks up.
“The really strange thing is that Neumans, who insisted they were the point of contact with the police, they also do not notify the police.
“It’s quite a coincidence both her and Neumans say nothing to the police about finding the diamond. The chances of that happening are very small. We say she was acting on advice from Neumans. They have manipulated this from start to finish.
“When it appears in Antwerp the officers reopen the case, witness statements are taken and the officer says ‘they were not only deceitful, but in my view they were trying to secure the diamond and never wanted a prosecution at all’.
“I intend to ask her why both her and Neumans say nothing to the police officer about finding the diamond.
“As far as the law firm are concerned it is potentially perverting the course of justice.”
The Solicitors Regulation Authority effectively closed down Neumans LLP, based in central London, in July after suspecting the firm of dishonesty.
It was said the couple spent £41,950 ($55,000) in legal costs to get the ring back from its US buyers.
Genevieve Reed prosecuting said: “There has been a change of heart from the complainants in light of the material in the bad character application and they don’t want to give witness statements.
“He doesn’t suggest he wasn’t involved in taking drugs or prostitutes. I confirm he accepts it is him in the videos and who sent the messages.
“The crown will be offering no evidence on count one and two.”
During two days of the hearing Mr Klyucharev arrived at court in a white Mercedes 4×4 and got out puffing on a cigar, accompanied by his own lawyer.
Neither Mr Klyucharev or Ms Chou were in court to hear the CPS offer no evidence as they left to get on a private jet to fly to Houston, Texas.
Outside court a relieved Mr Zayee said: “My only comment is thank God for my barrister.”