Russian billionaire's son helped father hide wealth in record UK divorce case, court rules

Michael Holden
·3-min read

By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) - A British judge ruled on Wednesday that Russian billionaire Farkad Akhmedov had conspired with his son to try to stop his ex-wife from receiving her British record 453.6 million pound divorce settlement.

In an excoriating ruling, Justice Gwynneth Knowles said oil and gas tycoon Akhmedov's son Temur had acted as his "father's lieutenant" to devise a series of schemes to hide his fortune.

The judge said he had tried to stop his mother Tatiana Akhmedova - who had sued her son as well as two Liechtenstein trustee entities and another company at London's High Court - from receiving "a penny of the matrimonial assets" she was owed.

Temur Akhmedov told the court his father would rather the money was burnt than for his mother to get any.

"I reject his case that he was a mere go-between for his father: the evidence indicated otherwise," Knowles said in the ruling, in which she ordered Akhmedova's son to pay his mother more than 70 million pounds.

"He lied to this court on numerous occasions; breached court orders; and failed to provide full disclosure of his assets. I find that he is a dishonest individual who will do anything to assist his father, no doubt because he is utterly dependent on his father for financial support."

The bitter family legal battle began in 2016 when an English judge ordered Akhmedov to pay his ex-wife the multi-million pound divorce payment, which newspapers and her own representatives believe to be biggest of its kind in Britain.

One of the main assets in dispute since has been a super yacht, the M.V. Luna, which was built for Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich before Akhmedov bought it for 260 million euros in 2014.

It was part of the original divorce settlement when Akhmedova was awarded it, and she has since attempted to gain control of the vessel, which has at least nine decks, two helipads, a vast swimming pool and a mini submarine.

It was impounded in Dubai in 2018 after the London court granted a worldwide freezing order, but a court there later refused to hand it over to Akhmedova.

"Since our divorce in 2016, the conduct of my ex-husband Farkhad has left a trail of destruction and pain in his wake," Akhmedova said in a statement.

"He has driven a vendetta born from his lies, that set out to destroy not only myself but sadly to try and drive a wedge between a mother and son. Fortunately that bond is unbreakable."

Akhmedov said the court case had been a "cowardly action" against his son, the Daily Mail cited a statement as saying.

"Entirely predictably, given its original wrong and misguided judgement, the London court has ruled in favour of visiting 'the sins' of the father on an innocent and loyal son," Akhmedov said.

A spokesman for the son, Temur, said he "fundamentally disagrees" with the judgement, but considered it a price worth paying if it led to a reasonable settlement between both his parents, the paper said.

"All happy families are alike, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," Knowles said. "With apologies to Tolstoy, the Akhmedov family is one of the unhappiest ever to have appeared in my courtroom."

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Bernadette Baum)