A Dubai court will this weekend make a key ruling on the release of a Russian oligarch’s £350 million superyacht, which has been at the centre of a global legal battle over the UK’s biggest divorce settlement since being dramatically seized in Dubai in February.
Commercial courts at the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) ordered the arrest of Luna, which formerly belonged to Roman Abramovich, in February when she put into emirate’s globally renowned dockyard for routine maintenance.
Russian oligarch Farkhad Akhmedov, who is at the centre of Britain’s costliest divorce, has had his £300m super yacht Luna seized after his former wife won a court order to seize his assets
Bailiffs acting for the High Court in London took control of the 115m yacht named Luna (pictured), which is owned by oil and gas tycoon Mr Akhmedov when it docked in Dubai
Luna’s 50-man crew, who live on board (pictured) have not been allowed to leave the UAE and are believed to be staying on the yacht since it was seized on Valentine’s Day
The Luna – which boasts the largest swimming pool on any of the world’s super yachts – is considered one of the prize assets of 61-year-old Akhmedov’s £900million fortune
Divorce: Billionaire Akhmedov (left) has been ordered to pay his ex-wife Tatiana (right) £453m by a divorce judge making the split the most expensive ever in Britain
The move followed Russian oil and gas billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov’s refusal to pay his former wife Tatiana a penny of the £453 million awarded to her in divorce proceedings in the London High Court in 2016.
He insists the couple were divorced in Moscow in 2000 over her infidelity with English web designer Mark Isle, nine years her junior.
He continued to provide lavishly for Tatiana and their two sons, enabling her to live “like royalty”, until she sought a new divorce settlement 12 years later under English law.
Last month, in a major legal victory for the family trust which owns Luna and for Mr Akhmedov, a practising Muslim, Dubai’s most senior judges ordered that all proceedings involving Luna be transferred from the DIFC courts to the emirate’s local Sharia courts.
The judges of Dubai’s Joint Judicial Committee ruled that the DIFC should have never been involved since the proceedings involved divorce rather than principally financial matters.
Following the move to the local courts, Luna was allowed to leave the dry docks for the open waters of Prince Rashid harbour in preparation for her release.
In another significant move, the yacht’s 50-strong, mainly British, crew had passports which had previously been seized by armed coastguards returned to them in readiness for leaving Dubai.
These moves have come as a blow to Tatiana and her legal team and financial backers.
In a bid to secure the English settlement, Tatiana assigned the debt to litigation financiers Burford Capital, a London AIM listed company in return for their receiving up to 30 per cent of any money recovered.
Mr Akhmedov has always said the High Court in London was misguided in awarding Tatiana a second divorce settlement following the Moscow divorce.
His ex-wife began proceedings in London in 2012, just days after her oil and gas tycoon former husband had added to his fortune with the billion pound sale of his oil and gas assets in Russia.
Tatiana, who took up UK citizenship following the Moscow divorce, now lives in a multi-million pound Surrey mansion.
Mr Akhmedov retained his Russian citizenship and only ever visited the UK to see his young sons with Tatiana – both now in their 20s.
Mr Akhmedov’s legal fight to thwart orders seeking to freeze his assets and those of the family trust now involves complex litigation around the world.
Gas and oil tycoon Akhmedov bought the yacht called Luna (pictured) from his close friend Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich in 2014
The tycoon spent more than £50m on a refit for the vessel, which boasts nine decks and has two helipads as well as 10 VIP rooms and sumptuous bedrooms (pictured)
The boat boasts a huge swimming pool, which is the largest on any of the world’s super yachts
The yacht is being held in Dubai as part of Akhmedov’s ongoing divorce battle with his ex-wife
During their marriage, the couple enjoyed a glitteringly lavish lifestyle, sailing around the world on Luna, with a £20 million mansion in Surrey, as well as a £27.8 million holiday pad