Beta Disclaimer! Please note that we are currently in our beta test phase and we are updating the site on a regular basis.

Russian vodka billionaire slapped by ET for whistleblowing dismissal

Posted On: [09/03/2022]

Whistleblowing Dismissal

In V Zabelin v SPI Spirits (UK) Ltd and others , the Employment Tribunal found that the Russian billionaire behind Stolichnaya vodka unfairly sacked a £180,000-a-year UK executive after he objected to 'brutal' 30% staff pay cuts during the pandemic. Oligarch Yuri Shefler fired Chief Investment Officer Vlad Zabelin over the phone to 'punish' him for complaining about the cuts. Shefler, a vodka tycoon worth £2 billion, slashed the pay of all his 2,000 workers by 30 per cent when the Covid-19 pandemic hit even though the business was still performing well. Mr Zabelin raised concerns that Shefler, owner of S.P.I. Group, was 'using the pandemic as an excuse to cut pay without any transparency' and that cuts were 'unnecessary'. Mr Zabelin initially agreed to a 30% pay cut for three months due to the pandemic. When he was informed it would continue without an end in sight, he objected. Mr Zabelin discovered that expensive investment opportunities were still being explored in America when employees in New York were facing 'brutal pay cuts'. When he complained, Shefler fired him over the phone. Mr Zabelin won his claims of unfair dismissal and whistle blowing against Shefler and SPI Spirits (UK) Limited. Employment Judge Lewis who made the ruling, said: ' No procedures were followed whatsoever. In the middle of a conversation to discuss his concerns about pay and bonus cuts, Mr Zabelin was told out of the blue that he was fired. Judge Lewis said 'no reasonable employer would have dismissed' Mr Zabelin for 'arguing his case and asking for transparency about what was proposed'.

See Whistleblowing