The ex-wife of one of the richest men in Russia got the lid on when she tried in a British court to increase the amount she got in their divorce. Instead of the 75 million euros she was allocated, she wanted 5.8 billion or a third of her ex’s fortune. If she had succeeded, the divorce would have gone down in history as the most expensive in British history.
It was in 2014 that Vladimir Potanin – according to business magazine Forbes, the sixth richest man in Russia – and his wife Natalia separated after 30 years of marriage. Potanin had made his fortune in the mining sector after the collapse of the Soviet Union and successfully invested in a wide range of sectors, from banks and insurance to media and pharmacy. His assets thus grew to 16.4 billion euros and Natalia wanted her share of that.
However, upon completion of the divorce in Russia, she received “only” 75 million and she didn’t think that was enough. The then wife – who has lived in London since the divorce – went to a British court to file a new claim. Because she wanted a third of her husband’s fortune, and British courts are known to grant high compensation for divorces.
Her argument was that because of the original amount she had to live in “poverty” and that it did not meet her “reasonable needs”. Moreover, she said she had played an important role in expanding her husband’s business empire.
She hadn’t received a fair trial in Russia, that’s how it sounded. After all, her ex-husband had used his “wealth, power and influence” to ensure that she fished behind the net. In the United Kingdom that could now be corrected.
That would not be easy, because according to Natalia her ex-husband had hidden his wealth in a complex web of offshore companies. Years ago, he had argued before the Moscow court that he had hardly any assets. But she was sure nothing of that was right.
The lawyers of her ex did not let the cases go as they were and immediately went to the British Supreme Court to have the case declared inadmissible and they were right. The judge now ruled that the woman could not start a case in the UK.
“It is not because Ms. a – she belaeves – has suffered significant injustice in another country and moved to England after her divorce – that her case can be dealt with in England and Wales,” it said. The judge found her link with the United Kingdom “too weak”.
Her ex-husband’s lawyers argued that she had only moved to London – where she lives in a 2.9-million-dollar flat – for a new alimony trial and called her a “divorce tourist.” According to the judge, there would be “no more limits on divorce tourism” if the case of Natalia were dealt with in England. He also noted that England was already the fourth country where the woman tried to file a case against her ex.
According to the woman’s lawyers, she is “very disappointed” by the verdict and would consider appealing.