British woman still married to ‘prominent’ Indonesian businessman – judge rules

The estranged British wife of a “prominent” Indonesian businessman who wants a judge in England to decide how much she walks away with has won an initial round of a London divorce fight.

Deputy High Court Judge James Ewins has ruled that Monisha Mahtani, 49, is still married to husband Vivek Mahtani, 51, under English law.

Mrs Mahtani told the judge that Mr Mahtani was a “prominent businessman” worth more than £35 million and said the then-president of Indonesia had been a guest at their wedding celebration 20 years ago.

But she argued that a divorce, “obtained” by Mr Mahtani in Indonesia in 2017, left her with “no rights” to his assets and should not be recognised in England.

She said she wanted to “pursue financial claims” against Mr Mahtani “before the English court”.

Judge Ewins has ruled in her favour after concluding that Mr Mahtani had “misled” an Indonesian court.

He has refused recognition of the Indonesian divorce and says the Mahtanis’ marriage is “still subsisting under English law”.

The judge, who has outlined details of the case in a ruling after considering evidence at a recent hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London, was told that the couple had married in London in 2003 – then staged a Hindu wedding celebration in Indonesia.

He said Mr Mahtani had, without “any notice” to Mrs Mahtani, obtained a court order in Indonesia.

That order appeared to give Mrs Mahtani “no rights” to any of Mr Mahtani’s “assets or property” and meant that she “may not claim anything back” from a “joint property”, except “bed linen and personal clothing”, said the judge.

Mrs Mahtani said her husband came from a “very wealthy and prominent family in Indonesia”.

“She states that during the marriage they lived a life of luxury where money was never an issue,” said Judge Ewins.

“She describes the respondent as a prominent businessman in his own right, being the director of and holding shares in several companies including those concerned with iron and steel and industrial chemicals, forestry products and spices and coconut plantations and related products.

“(Mrs Mahtani) states that (Mr Mahtani) mixes with high society in Indonesia, including the president.

“Indeed, she states that the then-president of Indonesia was a special guest at their wedding celebration in 2003.

“(She) conservatively estimates the respondent’s wealth to be in the region of 45 million US dollars.”

He added: “With full respect to the Indonesian court, which was misled by (Mr Mahtani) in 2017, I refuse recognition of the Indonesian divorce.”

Judge Ewins said Mr Mahtani had “not participated at all in any of the English proceedings”.

He had not “acknowledged receipt or service of, or responded to, any of the documents” arising out of Mrs Mahtani’s divorce petition, said the judge.