Russian billionaire settles with ex-wife five years after £450m payout ruling
After almost five years of fighting a high court ruling that awarded the UK’s largest ever divorce payout, a Russian billionaire has reached a settlement with his ex-wife.
Akhmedov, who’s name appeared on the US’s “Putin list” in 2018 of officials and oligarchs close to the Kremlin, did not pay the 41.5% share of the couple’s £1bn-plus marital assets, calling the ruling “wrong and misguided”. Akhmedova took legal action in Britain and a number of jurisdictions to trace and seize assets.
A spokesperson for Azerbaijani-born Akhmedov said on Friday that a settlement had been reached and she had “accepted a cash and art settlement”.
In the original trial the woman had originally sought £350m, but because the two parties had not agreed a settlement she claimed a further £93m comprising chattels at their English home valued at £2.5m, an Aston Martin car in Surrey valued at £350,000, and the modern art collection valued at $112m.
The family fortune includes a modern art collection with pieces by Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst that are held in a Liechtenstein facility called the Stabiq Treasure House.
Akhmedova also attempted to seize Akhmedov’s £300m superyacht, Luna, which was built for the Chelsea football club owner, Roman Abramovich and has 10 VIP cabins and a 20-metre swimming pool.
In April another high court judge found that Akhmedova had been a victim of a “series of schemes” designed to put “every penny” beyond her reach.
The couple’s son, Temur Akhmedov, was found to have colluded with his father to hide hundreds of millions of pounds of assets – including several mansions, a superyacht, a helicopter and an extensive art collection.
He was ordered to pay £75m to his mother after the judge, Gwynneth Knowles, found he was “a dishonest individual who will do anything to assist his father”.
“Temur has learned well from his father’s past conduct and has done and said all he could to prevent his mother receiving a penny of the matrimonial assets,” said the judge in a ruling.
She called the Akhmedov family “one of the unhappiest ever to have appeared in my courtroom”.
After the ruling in April, a spokesperson for Temur Akhmedov said he had “never sought to take sides or get involved but inevitably found himself sucked into the vortex of a bitter family dispute”.
The settlement appears to be the end of the long-running saga which saw Akhmedov involve the international police agency Interpol in his attempts to stop her from seizing his assets. This triggered claims that Akhmedov’s lawyers were abusing the legal process, claims that were strongly rejected.
Lawyers acting for Akhmedov, who has indefinite leave to remain in the UK, argued that he had made a “stellar” contribution to his wealth creation, so should not have to give his wife, a British citizen since 2000, almost half of his fortune.
Akhmedov claimed an earlier divorce between the couple – in Moscow 19 years ago – superseded the UK judgment, and said his wife’s attempts to seize his assets were a fraudulent act.
But, handing down his judgment in 2016, Justice Haddon-Cave said he had found no evidence of the earlier divorce. “The inference to be drawn … is that the 2000 Moscow divorce documents … were, at all material times, forged,” said Haddon-Cave.
Akhmedova did not comment on the settlement but Burford Capital, a specialist litigation funder which provided her with financial backing, said it had “now received its full cash entitlement” in respect of the “Akhmedov matter”.
Following the April ruling she said her husband’s failure to pay her the original divorce settlement had “left a trail of destruction and pain in his wake”.