UK’s largest divorce pay-out enforcement action ends after four years of fighting
Following almost five years of fighting to enforce the largest divorce award ever granted in the UK, it was announced on Friday 16 July 2021 that Tatiana Akhmedova had accepted a settlement agreement from her ex-husband, Farkhad Akhmedov, bringing a seeming end to the acrimonious proceedings between the billionaire and his ex-wife.
Ms Akhmedova was originally granted an order for £453m by Mr. Justice Haddon-Cave in 2017, representing a 41.5% share of the total assets in the marriage (consisting of more than £1 billion in art, property, jewellery, and the super-yacht Luna, previously owned by Roman Abramovich), at the time the largest settlement amount ever agreed in a UK Court.
However, her ex-husband, Mr. Akhmedov, disputed the finding, arguing that the ruling was “wrong and misguided” as he maintained that he had, in fact, divorced Ms Akhmedova in Moscow 19 years prior. During proceedings, however, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave rejected this argument finding that the Moscow divorce papers “were, at all material times, forged”.
In the aftermath of the £453m ruling, Mr Akhmedov refused to pay, which led to Ms Akhmedova taking legal action in both Britain and abroad to attempt to trace and seize assets to satisfy the Court Order. As part of those subsequent proceedings, the High Court found that Mr Akhmedov had colluded with his son, Temur Akhmedov, to hide hundreds of millions of pounds of assets from Ms Akhmedova through a series of “dishonest schemes” (Akhmedova v Akhmedov & Ors (Rev 1)  EWHC 545 (Fam)).
Moreover, as Ms Akhmedova attempted to recover her settlement funds, Mr Akhmedov took the highly unusual step of alerting Interpol Russia to the fact that his ex-wife was, by his belief, attempting to misappropriate his assets based on a fraud – leading to, strenuously denied, claims that his lawyers were abusing the legal process. Ms Akhmedova said in April 2021 that her ex-husband had “left a trail of destruction and pain in his wake” through his behaviour following the original decision.
The most recent decision of the two to settle, then, could be seen to be surprising, given both how entrenched Mr Akhmedov appeared to be in his position and how tenacious Ms Akhmedova was in pursuing the terms of the original order. While Ms. Akhmedova has not directly commented on the form or contents of this most recent settlement, a spokesman for Mr Akhmedov said that his ex-wife had “accepted a cash and art settlement”.
Whether the July 2021 settlement will be the end of this saga remains to be seen, however it is safe to say that the vast majority of divorce settlements need not be this lengthy nor acrimonious.
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Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice.