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Sun 12 Aug 2018 12:44 PM

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Dubai hears divorce feud over $500 million yacht

The vessel bought by Farkhad Akhmedov from Chelsea football club owner and billionaire Roman Abramovich in 2014 is believed to be the world's 23rd largest luxury yacht

Dubai hears divorce feud over $500 million yacht
The 115-metre (380-foot) MV Luna, currently impounded in a dry dock in Dubai.

The latest round of what is believed to be Britain’s biggest divorce case, which involves a $500 million (AED1.8 billion) superyacht, will be heard in a Dubai court on Sunday.

The hearing will appeal to uphold a freezing order imposed by the London High Court on 115-metre yacht Luna, the main contention of the legal dispute between Russian oil tycoon Farkhad Akhmedov and his former wife Tatiana Akhmedov, a dual citizen.

A UK court ruled in April 2018 that the yacht ownership be transferred to Tatyana, though lawyers of oil tycoon Akhmedov will argue that the London order cannot be imposed in the UAE.

While the case was initially handled by DIFC Courts, it was removed by Dubai’s Joint Judicial Commission in July this year. 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. The move was seen as a major setback for the former wife.

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.

It is secured in family trust fund Straight Establishment, however, making it difficult for lawyers to determine who its legal owners are.

Akhmedov this 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.

He has so far argued that a divorce awarded in Moscow in 2000 permits him to ignore the UK’s court proceedings, though both the English court and Moscow dismissed his claim.

The couple were initially married in 1993 before Tatyana filed for divorce in 2003. The duo were divorced in 2014 after several attempts of reconciliation. Akhmedov has two children with his former wife and three from another marriage.

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