A billionaire Russian-born trader embroiled in a divorce fight at the High Court in London has been ordered to pay £453 million to his estranged 44-year-old wife.
The payment from the former oil and gas trader to his ex-wife, has been described as one of the biggest awards in British legal history
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Mr Justice Haddon-Cave has concluded the woman should get a 41.5% share of a fortune totalling just over £1 billion.
He announced his decision on Thursday in a written ruling after analysing the case at a private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.
The judge has ruled the couple cannot be identified.
He said they had shared a home in Surrey.
The man was 61, came from the Caucasus, and had worked as a London oil and gas trader before building up a fortune in the Russian energy business.
The woman comes from eastern Europe but had been a British citizen since 2000.
Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said the woman had been a housewife and mother to the couple’s now grown-up sons.
The man had argued he had made a “special contribution” to the generation of wealth.
The judge concluded the man and woman had made “equal contributions to the welfare of the family”.
A specialist lawyer said it was “impossible” to say whether the award was the”biggest” because disputes were often aired and finalised behind closeddoors.
“Whether or not this is indeed the biggest ever … is impossible to say,” said Rosie Schumm, who is based at law firm Forsters.
“This is partly because an increasing number of high net worth couples are electing for private divorce and arbitration where the proceedings and the details of the final settlement are kept entirely confidential.”
In late 2014, Jamie Cooper-Hohn, wife of financier Sir Chris Hohn, was awarded more than £330 million by a judge following a divorce court hearing.
Three years earlier, Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky featured in a multi-million pound divorce case.
It was reported his former wife Galina Besharova had agreed to accept between £165 million and £220 million as part of a settlement.
Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said the pair had married in Moscow in 1993.
They had moved to London in 1993.
Both had been given indefinite leave to stay in the UK.
Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said the man had worked in London as an oil and gas trader.
The judge said he had been very successful in pursuing business interests in the energy sector in Russia.
Nearly five years ago the man had sold shares in a Russian company for around £1 billion dollars.
The woman had contended the “total net marital wealth” was just over £1 billion.
She said the “entire wealth” was “matrimonial in character” and had been built up during a long marriage through “equal contributions to the welfare of the family”.
Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said she had been a “reliable and straightforward” witness.
The woman’s legal team had been led by barristers Nigel Dyer QC, Dakis Hagen and Henry Clayton.
She was not in court on Thursday to see Mr Justice Haddon-Cave deliver his ruling.
Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said the man had not appeared at the final hearing of the case.
He said the man had made a “sudden decision” two weeks before a scheduled trial “no longer to contest proceedings”.
The judge said the reasons for the man’s decision were “unclear”.
But the judge said he had carefully studied documents and witness statements previously lodged by the man.
The judge said the man had argued he was wealthy before they married and that he had made a “special contribution” to the creation of wealth.
Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said the man had been “very generous with gifts”.
The man had bought the woman jewellery worth more than £300,000, given her unrestricted use of two credit cards and use of a yacht, plane and helicopter.
He also had property, an art collection worth more than £90 million and a £350,000 Aston Martin.
The judge said the art collection and car would be transferred to the woman as part of the payout package.
Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said there had been a disagreement over when the couple had separated.
He concluded that the marriage had lasted more than 20 years.
The judge ruled that the man had not made a “special or stellar” contribution to the generation of marital assets.
He also said the man had breached judge’s orders relating to provision of documentation during the litigation.
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