Son ordered to pay mother £75 million in record divorce case

Son ordered to pay mother £75 million in record divorce case

Lauren Preedy - Senior Associate Solicitor - Head of Divorce Team

Lauren Preedy – Senior Associate Solicitor – Head of Divorce Team

The son of a Russian oligarch has been ordered by the High Court in London to pay some £75 million to his mother, in connection with what is believed to be the highest-money divorce case ever in this country.

In 2016 the High Court ordered Farkhad Akhmedov to pay to Tatiana Akhmedova the sum of £453 million, comprising 41.5% of the total marital assets. Since then Ms Akhmedova has been endeavouring to enforce payment of the award, alleging that Mr Akhmedov has done all he can to put his money beyond her reach, with the assistance of the parties’ son, Temur.

And despite the vast sums of money involved, the case contains useful lessons for divorcing couples of more modest means.

Unhappiest family

The first lesson comes from the very first paragraph of Mrs Justice Knowles’ excellent judgment, which in turn starts with the first sentence of Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina:

“All happy families are alike, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Mrs Justice Knowles goes on:

“With apologies to Tolstoy, the Akhmedov family is one of the unhappiest ever to have appeared in my courtroom. Though this case concerns wealth of which most can only dream, it is – at its core – a straightforward case in which, following their divorce, a wife seeks to recover that which is owed to her from a husband and his proxies who, it is alleged, have done all they can to put monies beyond her reach. Nevertheless, it is a case not without legal and factual complexity though much of that stems from the details of dishonest schemes instigated by Farkhad Akhmedov and put into effect by his advisors and his eldest son, Temur Akhmedov.”

The lesson here is simple: don’t let your animosity towards your (former) spouse destroy your family. In particular, don’t ever use your children as weapons in a divorce battle – what they (and possibly you) will lose is worth far more than anything money can buy.

 

Series of schemesrecord divorce case

The other big lesson to be learned from this case is the futility of attempting to thwart the will of the court. It can be a temptation in any case, even for people with only modest financial assets, to try to prevent the other party from getting their hands on those assets. But, as we will see, the court is quite capable of unravelling any scheme designed to do this.

Ms Akhmedova made claims against various trusts, a company and Temur, alleging that money belonging to the husband had been transferred to them, with the aim of preventing her from having any of it.

Mrs Justice Knowles agreed that the wife had been the victim of a series of schemes designed to put every penny of the husband’s wealth beyond her reach. That strategy, she said, was designed to render her powerless by ensuring that, if she did not settle her claim for financial relief following their divorce on the husband’s terms, there would be no assets left for her to enforce against. And Temur confirmed in his oral evidence that his father would rather have seen the money burnt than for his mother to receive a penny of it.

Mrs Justice Knowles said that Temur told her in his evidence that he had helped his father protect his assets from his mother’s claims. He was, she said, “his father’s lieutenant.” She went on: “Temur has learned well from his father’s past conduct and has done and said all he could to prevent his mother receiving a penny of the matrimonial assets. 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.”record divorce case internal office shot

Accordingly, Mrs Justice Knowles granted Ms Akhmedova’s claims. The trusts and company were ordered to pay large sums to her, and Temur was himself ordered to pay her some £75 million.

If you would like to read the full judgment on this record divorce case, all 404 paragraphs of it, you can do so here.

 

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