Ex-wife gets £53m in divorce ruling
A former wife has been awarded a divorce settlement of more than £53 million against her businessman husband by a High Court judge.
The award to the 48-year-old woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, includes a lump sum of £38 million.
Details of the case have been made public in an anonymised judgment given today by Mrs Justice Eleanor King in London.
The case involves a Russian husband and wife who have lived in England since 2005 and have two children together.
They lived a "lavish lifestyle" and their family home in central London was bought for £3.825 million.
The couple married in 1991, but she divorced him in Russia in 2009 after 17 years of marriage.
They met in 1987 in the factory where they both worked. The husband was a telephone technician and the wife worked in the cultural department.
The woman sought orders at the High Court relating to a number of properties and also to a lump sum, which the judge said the ex-wife "will attempt to enforce in other jurisdictions".
Announcing her decision, the judge said: "The case has been a fantastic charade with the husband a shady puppet master in the background.
"At fabulous cost - £1.4 million and counting - those representing the wife have crossed and re-crossed the globe in an attempt to trace the husband's assets, every penny of which has been acquired during the course of the marriage."
The woman's application at the High Court was for an order for "financial relief" under the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 following her divorce.
The judge said the QC representing the wife during the hearing earlier this year had put the assets in the case - "at least those assets his legal team have been able to trace in the absence of any proper disclosure by the husband" - at about £107 million.
Of that figure some £91.6 million is represented by 11 commercial properties in Russia, with the remainder of the "identified wealth" being held in eight English properties worth together about £14, 002,337.
The judge ruled: "The husband was the wealth creator, the wife the homemaker. Each contributed fully to the marriage.
"I am satisfied that all the family's wealth was created during the course of the marriage."
She said: "The starting point must be that the assets are shared equally. The husband has failed, whether in writing or by attending court, to make any submissions to the contrary.
"The wife does not seek an order in excess of 50% of the known assets to reflect the overwhelming likelihood that even yet the court does not know the full extent of the husband's wealth."
Mrs Justice King said her decision would give the wife £53,531,168 , but added that this was "before what I very much fear will be the very substantial costs of enforcement".
She referred to the "formidable challenges for the wife in enforcing the lump sum order".
The judge said: "In my judgment this is a case where, notwithstanding the formidable challenges for the wife in enforcing a lump sum order, it would be iniquitous if the husband was permitted, by virtue of his appalling litigation misconduct, to drive the court into an order which is substantially less than that which by virtue of the sharing principle, she would otherwise receive."
She was satisfied that the 49-year-old husband had at all times been completely in touch with the progress of the litigation "whilst playing no active part in it".
The judge said: "Whilst the husband has failed at every step of the way to provide any honest disclosure or to engage in the proceedings he has equally, at every step of the way, indulged in satellite litigation which has achieved nothing other than to be costly and distressing to the wife."
She said: "In the present case the wife has received no provision from a Russian court. It is accepted that the only provision that this wife, who has made her permanent home in this country, will receive is that made pursuant to an order of this court."
The judge also made orders for child maintenance at the rate of £20,000 a year per child "until each completes full-time tertiary education and make provision for school fees and university costs limited to first degree".