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Britain

Russian oligarch, close to Putin, is identified in record US$643m British divorce case

Farkhad Akhmedov, an oil tycoon, was ordered to hand over more than 41 per cent of his fortune to ex-wife Tatiana Akhmedova

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 February, 2018, 1:24pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 February, 2018, 1:25pm

A Russian billionaire who was ordered to pay £453 million (US$643 million) to his former wife in what is believed to be Britain’s biggest divorce case was named at the High Court on Wednesday as Farkhad Akhmedov.

However, the court in London heard his ex-wife Tatiana Akhmedova had not received “a penny from him”.

An order had prevented the couple’s identification after Akhmedova requested anonymity because of fears for her safety. However details of the settlement – and the couple’s lavish lifestyle – were revealed in the court of appeal on Wednesday.

Akhmedov, 62, who featured this week on the US “Putin list” of officials and oligarchs close to the Kremlin, was ordered to give his 41-year-old ex-wife 41.5 per cent of his “staggering” wealth by a High Court judge in 2016.

The gas and oil tycoon who is close friends with Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich – who sold Akhmedov his superyacht Luna for a reputed US$360 million in 2014 – married Akhmedova more than 20 years ago.

The couple, who have two sons, moved to London in 1993 and Akhmedova raised the children without the help of a nanny, the court was told.

They lived in a £39 million mansion in Surrey and had a £27.8 million holiday home.

Akhmedov is appealing against the divorce settlement. His lawyers claimed the judgment, by Mr Justice Haddon Cave, showed “manifestly unjust” favouritism towards her by the British courts.

She had argued she was due almost half of their £1 billion fortune due to her “equal contributions to the welfare of the family” during their marriage.

Akhmedova says she has received almost nothing despite the court’s order.

Hodge Malek QC, for Akhmedova, told the Court of Appeal she was just 17 when she met her ex-husband, and 21 and pregnant when they married in 1993 and moved to England.

“The husband has not paid a penny. Despite being awarded in aggregate £453,576,152 before interest and costs [she] has to date received nothing from [him] save for some de minimis assets in the UK.”

“The marriage broke down in 2013 and finally ended in 2014,” he said. Since then he alleged her husband “embarked on a deliberate campaign of trying to defeat the wife’s claims by any means possible – save on the merits”.

Malek claimed the husband had shifted almost all of his wealth offshore from the UK to “stop his wife getting it”.

The previous highest divorce payout was made public in 2014 when Jamie Cooper-Hohn, estranged wife of financier Sir Chris Hohn, was awarded £337 million. Last year Khoo Kay Peng, the boss of Laura Ashley, was ordered to pay his ex-wife, Pauline Chai, £64 million. Such awards have given London the reputation of being “the divorce capital of the world”.