A Russian billionaire fighting one of the largest divorce payouts in U.K. history lost a Moscow court case where he was trying to prove that his marriage had been dissolved 16 years earlier.
Farkhad Akhmedov was ordered to pay his wife Tatiana Akhmedova $586 million following a London trial that he refused to participate in on the grounds that he was already divorced in Russia. Now the Moscow City Court has rejected an appeal by the businessman seeking to prove the existence of that divorce.
The possibility of a prior divorce has hung over the dispute between Akhmedov and his wife, who has been attempting to seize the billionaire’s 115-meter (380-foot) luxury yacht to enforce the payout. The $492 million ship — the MV Luna — is currently impounded in Dubai.
The Moscow court upheld a decision by a lower court that dismissed an attempt to prove the existence of the earlier divorce proceedings in Russia. Akhmedov failed to submit “sufficient and credible evidence,” the lower court said in its earlier judgment.
During an early appearance in the London case, Akhmedov’s lawyers produced “official” documents confirming the Russian divorce. But in his London ruling, Judge Charles Haddon-Cave suggested that the Moscow documents “were, at all material times, forged.” He awarded Akhmedova 41 percent of the billionaire’s wealth,
The 63-year-old natural-gas magnate has said he’d supported his wife after their marriage was dissolved in Russia. He blamed cynical lawyers for later filing for divorce in London, and U.K. politics for the court’s decision. He said he planned to appeal the Moscow ruling to Russia’s supreme court.
A spokesman for the billionaire said Akhmedov will continue to resist the English judgment “using every legal means at his disposal, in whichever court in the world his ex-wife and her army of expensive lawyers may try to enforce it.”
“What is at issue in the Russian proceedings is the whereabouts of critical court documents following actions by Mr. Akhmedov’s ex-wife Tatiana and her agents to destroy evidence of the 2000 Russian divorce,” he said.
A spokesman for Akhmedova responded, saying: “this allegation is as fanciful as it is false – altering a public record would be entirely impossible within the Russian legal system. First these documents were found to have been forged, then he claimed they were lost, and now he claims they were destroyed.”
For Akhmedova and her backers, the prize remains the Luna. The nine-deck yacht, which has 50 crew and two helipads, was originally built for Roman Abramovich before Akhmedov purchased it in 2014. It boasts a 20-meter outdoor swimming pool, eight smaller boats and a mini-submarine.
The Russian couple are not the only ones to have been through a costly divorce. When billionaires get divorced, the property settlements are usually eye-watering.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch and journalist Anna Torv were married for 31 years and had three children together.
But the couple had diverging plans for when Murdoch would retire, and they agreed to an “amicable separation” in 1998. Details of the separation are sparse, but Torv is rumoured to have received $US1.7 billion.
The costliest known divorce occurred in 1999, when French-American businessman and art dealer Alec Wildenstein divorced his wife of 21 years, Jocelyn Wildenstein.
The high-profile divorce proceedings resulted in Jocelyn being awarded $US2.5 billion and $US100 million for each of the next 13 years, according to People, for a jaw-dropping total of $US3.8 billion.
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A property or divorce settlement can be reached at anytime following a separation. However, if an agreement can not be reached, the statutory time period to make an Application to the Court runs out:
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