Exclusive: Owner of $500m seized yacht appeals Dubai decision

Russian oil tycoon Farkhad Akhmedov expects the Russian courts to rule on the validity of the 'original divorce in 2000' over the next two months
Exclusive: Owner of $500m seized yacht appeals Dubai decision
Dubai Courts upheld an order imposed by the London High Court in April on 115-metre yacht Luna, the main contention in what is believed to be Britain’s biggest divorce case.
By Lubna Hamdan
Sun 02 Sep 2018 09:16 AM

Russian oil tycoon Farkhad Akhmedov has lodged a new appeal to lift a freezing order on his $500 million (AED1.8 billion) superyacht seized in Dubai as part of his legal dispute with former wife Tatiana Akhmedov. 

The statement comes days after Dubai Courts upheld an order imposed by the London High Court in April on 115-metre yacht Luna, the main contention in what is believed to be Britain’s biggest divorce case.

The UK court ruled that the vessel’s ownership be transferred to Tatiana, a dual citizen, with a spokesperson for Akhmedov’s ex-wife stating last week that it is “only a matter of time” before ownership of the yacht is handed over and sold swiftly to one of “many potential buyers”.

However, a spokesperson for Akhmedov told Arabian Business the claims are “pure fantasy”.

“Claims that the Luna will shortly be available for Tatiana’s lawyers and debt collectors to sell as a result of last week’s interim court ruling are pure fantasy. For that to happen would take years before the Dubai full legal processes are exhausted,” he said.

Russian courts to rule

Akhmedov has so far argued that a divorce awarded in Moscow in 2000 permits him to ignore the UK’s court proceedings.

He said he expects the Russian courts to rule on the validity of the “original divorce in 2000” over the next two months.

“It is that divorce which fundamentally underlines the misguided decisions of the English High Court in awarding her a second divorce payout in 2016 and of the DIFC courts to seize Luna,” according to his team.

While the case was initially handled by DIFC Courts, it was removed by Dubai’s Joint Judicial Commission in July this year, as it said the case must be heard by local sharia courts due to it being a matrimonial dispute as opposed to a commercial or maritime matter. At the time, the move was seen as a major setback for the former wife.

Following their win in court last week, however, Tatiana’s team said they will continue to arrange the formal transferral of Luna’s ownership to Akhmedov’s ex-wife in line with the UK court order.

The vessel has been held at Port Rashid since February and was purchased by Akhmedov from Chelsea football club owner and billionaire Roman Abramovich in 2014. It is believed to be the world’s 23rd largest luxury yacht, boasting a 50-person crew, spa, swimming pool and two helipads.

Akhmedov last month refused to pay his ex-wife the $600m divorce settlement imposed by a UK court, which also ordered him to buy her another house in London and grant her $36m to purchase a property on the French Riviera. The settlement will see him pay her $6.3m per year for life. His refusal to pay led the court to place a worldwide freezing order on all his assets, including the yacht.

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