Russian oligarch and gas and oil tycoon Farkhad Akhmedov, who has been fighting an acrimonious divorce battle against his ex-spouse, Tatiana Akhmedov, over the 115m explorer yacht, Luna, has been granted permission to recover the vessel by judges in a court in Dubai.
In 2016, the court awarded Ms Akhmedov £453 million ($825 million) for her ‘equal contributions to the welfare of the family’ – the largest sum ever granted for a divorce settlement in the UK. Mr Akhmedov’s refusal to pay this settlement – 41.5 per cent of his fortune, according to sources – led to the court agreeing to a freezing-order on his assets.
Consequently, in October 2017, Luna was detained by the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts while she was undergoing maintenance in Port Rashid, as judges at a London court sought to enforce the pay-out. She has been under arrest ever since.
In April this year, the judge in a UK court concluded that Mr Akhmedov was taking elaborate steps to ring-fence a number of assets from the UK courts to hide his wealth and evade enforcement – including Luna – restricting Ms Akhmedov’s access to his global assets for her share of the settlement.
The UK court ruled that the yacht should be transferred to Ms Akhmedov, however, judges in Dubai have now ruled that a commercial court in the Arab kingdom has no right to uphold a freezing order enforced by a UK court, and that the vessel belongs to Mr Akhmedov. As part of the decision, Ms Akhmedov has been ordered to pay her ex-husband’s legal fees.
‘Mr Akhmedov is delighted but not surprised by the court decision.’
A spokesperson for Mr Akhmedov has been cited in online media reports as saying, ‘Mr Akhmedov is delighted but not surprised by the court decision in favour of the Akhmedov family trust.
‘He believes the attempts by Tatiana [Akhmedov] and her team, backed for profit by City capital, to tie down family assets around the world are as misguided as the original English High Court was in granting Tatiana a second divorce 16 years after their marriage was validly dissolved in Russia.
‘He believes it is a massive gamble which Tatiana and her backers simply cannot win, and is reassured that the wise judges of Dubai's local courts have seen Tatiana's cynical claims for what they are.’
Judging by the response of a spokesperson for Ms Akhmedov, who said they ‘look forward to the opportunity to scrutinise the court’s reasoning and to consider grounds for appeal,’ the case is ongoing.
Luna was originally built by Lloyd Werft shipyard in Germany for renowned yacht owner, Roman Abramovich, in 2010. In April 2014, Abramovich sold Luna to Akhmedov, a close friend, in a deal worth $360 million, according to an online source. In 2015, she embarked on a remarkable €50 million refit.
According to The Superyacht Intelligence Agency, she was the 20th largest yacht in the world at the time of her delivery and is still widely regarded as one of the most significant explorer yachts on the water.
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