The former wife of a Russian oligarch is fighting for half of his £10 billion fortune in their divorce.
Now living in London, the wife has rejected an offer of £32 million and is taking her case to the Russian Supreme Court for a larger share of her husband’s substantial wealth. She claims that he did not become rich until they were married, but he insists that he does not own some of the assets she says he does. These include a very large house outside Moscow and two luxury yachts.
The husband initially asked for a divorce in 2013 after 30 years of marriage and three children. The dispute has not yet been resolved and has become increasingly bitter. Instead of a financial settlement, the oligarch told his wife “you don’t need money” she has claimed.
However, in 2014 a divorce court in Moscow sided with her husband and declared that he only had a few assets despite his estimated net worth of $13.5 billion. They ruled that many of the assets the wife said were his were owned by a small firm based in Cyprus. She believes that the court did not look at her husband’s assets, only hers.
Speaking to the Guardian, she said that there were “many people who end up in this situation”, fighting a wealthy ex-spouse for a reasonable settlement while they hide assets overseas. This is especially true in Russia, she claimed, where “the law is male; the ideology is male”.
She insisted that she “never aimed to have a public life” and that her situation had been forced on her. When the couple met and began a relationship they “had absolutely no money” she told the newspaper, adding that she “did not marry an oligarch who already owned factories and steamships”.
The woman remains in London because she is afraid that if she returns to Russia, her passport will be taken away and this will stop her from visiting her youngest son in New York where he is currently studying. She said that she was “hoping for justice” and “would accept any reasonable settlement”.