Elena Rybolovleva, the estranged wife of Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who was arrested and later released in Cyprus this week over the alleged theft of a €25m diamond ring, produced all the necessary documents to prove “exclusive legal ownership over the disputed piece of jewellery”, her lawyers said on Wednesday.
A statement from the law firm, Pelaghias Christodoulou Vrachas LLC said the arrest of Rybolovleva, 48, on arrival at Larnaca airport on a flight from Switzerland, appeared to be the latest of several attempts by her husband to “exercise illegal and improper pressure on the mother of his two daughters to force her to relinquish her legal rights in the context of divorce proceedings pending before the Swiss courts since December 2008”.
The firm said the arrest had come following a complaint filed by the Cypriot International Trust, Domus Trust – set up in 2010 – which is associated with oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, and which has accused his estranged wife of illegally possessing a ring belonging to the Trust.
However the statement said the ring was given to Rybolovleva in March 2008 as a gift from her husband while they were still together so “it remains unknown how it could ever be ‘stolen’ since it was given six years ago and had been made to fit her finger”, said the statement. Rybolovleva has been in the possession of the ring since it was given to her, it added, questioning how it could be ‘stolen’ from a Trust that was set up two years after that, and a Trust she knew nothing about.
Domus’ board of trustees has not provided any explanation as to its ‘right’ to the diamond ring, the law firm said. When the couple’s acrimonious divorce battle began in 2008 Rybolovlev set up a series of trusts around the globe to ostensibly safeguard his assets for his daughters.
Rybolovleva was released from custody late Monday without charge.
A former doctor, Dmitry Rybolovlev, who used to hold close to 10 per cent in Bank of Cyprus before the island’s bailout, made much of his fortune from the 2010 sale of his stake in fertiliser company Uralkali for $6.5 billion.
The couple were married for 23 years.