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Wed 29 Aug 2018 12:31 PM

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Dubai court rejects appeal over $500m superyacht

The order imposed by the London High Court on the 115-metre yacht Luna was upheld as part of a legal dispute between Russian oil tycoon Farkhad Akhmedov and his former wife, Tatiana Akhmedov

Dubai court rejects appeal over $500m superyacht

An appeal to lift a freezing order on a $500 million (AED1.8 billion) superyacht, the main contention of what is believed to be Britain’s biggest divorce case, has been rejected by Dubai Courts, documents seen by Arabian Business show.

The hearing last week upheld the order imposed by the London High Court in April on 115-metre yacht Luna in the legal dispute between Russian oil tycoon Farkhad Akhmedov and his former wife Tatiana Akhmedov, a dual citizen. The court ruled that the vessel’s ownership be transferred to Tatiana, though lawyers of Akhmedov argued at the time that the London order could not be imposed in the UAE.

In a statement to Arabian Business, a spokesperson for Tatiana said, “We note the weekend’s decision and are pleased that this court has also seen fit to maintain the arrest of Luna. In line with the UK court order, we will continue to arrange the formal transferral of Luna’s ownership to Ms Akhmedova,” adding that it is “only a matter of time” before ownership of the superyacht is handed over.

Lawyers representing Akhmedov’s ex-wife also said they will soon be able to engage with the yacht’s “many potential buyers” and expect its sale to be swift.

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. At the time, 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.

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 Tatiana 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.

Arabian Business digital magazine: read the latest edition online