Burford Funding divorce case setback as Dubai Court rules £343m superyacht cannot be seized
Updated: Jun 26, 2021
The wife in Britain's biggest ever divorce case may NEVER get her hands on Russian oligarch ex's £343million superyacht awarded to her by a UK judge, after a Court in Dubai ruled he can keep it.
The ex-wife of a Russian billionaire awarded a £340m super yacht by a British divorce court has seen her plans to seize the vessel finally scuppered in the latest court ruling.
A judge in Dubai has ruled that Farkhad Akhmedov is the rightful owner of the yacht Luna after a bitter multi million pound legal battle with his former wife Tatiana Akhmedova, supported by litigation funder Burford Capital.
The latest ruling is a major set back for the divorcee as it means the yacht can remain berthed in Dubai and not be at risk of ever being seized.
The legal wrangle will now switch back to the High Court in London where Ms Akhmedova was awarded £453m by a divorce court in 2016. Last week the 47-year-old's chances of getting her hands on any the money faded after it was revealed the yacht and other assets belonging to her ex were now in a series of trust set up in Liechtenstein. The enforcement of the original UK judgement is also being pursued by Burford.
Oil and gas tycoon Akhmedov moved his fortune to the secretive tax haven after the High Court in London awarded his ex-wife half of his estimated £1bn fortune.
Representatives of the trustees told the High Court last week that it is against the law of their country to transfer the assets to Mrs Akhmedova and they are not bound by any treaty with the UK to carry out court orders.
Ms Akhmedova as so far only pocketed about £5m in the long running legal dispute which has seen her freeze the assets of her son Temur, 26, after making him part of her legal action.
She is being backed by a financial litigation firm Burford Capital in her attempt to get the £453m - the biggest divorce settlement ever made by the UK court.
Her ex-husband refused to accept the ruling as he said they had previously divorced in 2004 while living in Moscow and his lawyers claimed the ruling was not valid as they were not married in the UK.
The Russian billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov moved his fortune to a secretive tax haven after the High Court in London awarded his ex-wife half of his fortune. His refusal to hand over half of his fortune sparked a legal dispute across the globe and has so far cost tens of millions.
Ms Akhmedova, who lives in a £25m Surrey mansion, won a court order for the spectacular yacht to be seized when it docked in Dubai in 2018. She had planned to sell the 115m long floating palace which has a crew of 50, nine decks and the largest swimming pool on any super-yacht while her ex-husband said he would rather sink the vessel than hand it over to her.
Lawyers for the couple have tussled over its ownership for more than a year with Dubai's Court of Cassation this week publishing a seven-page ruling in favour of Mr Akhmedov.
Despite the setback on Luna, lawyers for Mrs Akhmedova are likely to continue their legal battle as a judge has insisted that her husband should pay the money she is owed.
Mrs Justice Gwyneth Knowles ruled in the Family Division of the High Court that the yacht and a £100m art collection should be transferred top Ms Akhmedova from the Liechtenstein trusts. Trustees had asked Mrs Justice Knowles to release them from their 'obligations to execute transfers'. They said orders telling them to transfer the yacht and art collection would 'require' them to act in 'violation of the law of Liechtenstein'. Mrs Justice Knowles has refused their application.
A spokesman for Mr Akhmedov said:
'Luna rightly remains in the ownership of a family trust which exists for the benefit of all Mr Akhmedov's dependents, not merely for that of one ex-wife for whom he has always provided generously and well in excess of the ruling of the Russian court".
'Mr Akhmedov continues to believe that Burford Capital has no proper place in matrimonial proceedings in Dubai or in England – or anywhere else in the world.'
Carlo Fedrigoli, a lawyer acting for Farkhad Akhmedov, said:
'Tatiana and her backers have now – at very great expense - come to the end of the road in their attempts to enforce the matrimonial judgment in the UAE and remove Luna from her rightful ownership.
Their multiple and misguided attempts to bypass UAE public policy, family and Sharia law and enforce this matrimonial and maintenance judgement in Dubai have now been rejected for good.'