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Swiss court grants $4.5 bln divorce to Russian tycoon’s wife (Updated)

THE WIFE of Russian tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev has won a $4.5 billion divorce settlement in a Geneva court, Swiss media reported.

However lawyers for Rybolovlev say it’s far from a done deal.

After a six-year divorce battle, Elena Rybolovleva won 4.0 billion Swiss francs and custody of the couple’s 13-year-old daughter, although her estranged husband plans to appeal the ruling.

Elena Rybolovleva was arrested and released in Cyprus in February this year over the alleged theft of a €25m diamond ring but subsequently produced all the necessary documents to prove “exclusive legal ownership over the disputed piece of jewellery”, according to her lawyers.

She began divorce proceedings in Switzerland in 2008, winning a freeze on some of her husband’s assets including majority ownership in French soccer club AS Monaco, a $295 million stake in Bank of Cyprus and a $95 million Palm Beach, Florida home purchased from Donald Trump.

She later sued him in the United States, accusing him of trying to shield the Florida property from the divorce proceedings, along with an $88 million Manhattan penthouse bought from former Citigroup Inc Chief Executive Sanford “Sandy” Weill and his wife, Joan.

She also said her husband had used marital property to buy a multitude of other assets through a variety of trusts and limited liability companies, hoping to put those assets beyond her reach.

Last year their elder daughter Ekaterina bought the Greek resort island of Skorpios, where shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis married Jacqueline Kennedy in the 1960s. Ekaterina bought the island from Onassis’ sole surviving descendant, his 28-year-old granddaughter Athina Onassis Roussel.

Rybolovlev, who is resident in Monaco, made much of his fortune from the 2010 sale of his stake in fertilizer company Uralkali for $6.5 billion.

In a written statement on Tuesday, Tetiana Bersheda, Rybolovlev’s said: “This judgment has the merit of confirming both the validity of the trusts created by Mr. Rybolovlev and the validity of the asset transfer to them that occurred long before his wife initiated divorce proceedings. The transfer of property to heirs through the trust structures, in particular to the couple’s children, is therefore immune from legal challenge and is assured.”

Bersheda said the extraneous element of the case is that the real issues of the litigation are located abroad, and not in Switzerland.

“As to the amount of the claim of 4,020,555,987.90 CHF by Mrs Rybolovleva against Mr Rybolovlev, there will definitely be a new appellate review and therefore this judgment is not final given the existence of two levels of appeal in Switzerland,” she said.

Forbes magazine quoted  Elena Rybolovleva’s lawyer Marc Bonnant describing the decision as ‘’the most expensive divorce in history’’, but it questions the substance of the ruling: ‘’whether or not she’ll actually receive most of that money is not clear’’, according to Forbes.

A spokesman for the Russian billionaire, Sergey Chernitsyn said that ‘’as a matter of fact this is a win of Dmitry Rybolovlev’s lawyers. The Swiss court in fact agreed with the trusts’ transactions. Yes, Dmitry is divorced. The other things look like speculation. The lawyers of Elena Rybolovleva are trying to keep up appearances through a PR make up. The process is going on. There is no final decision’’.

 


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