LONDON: The former British wife of a Russian billionaire, who was ordered to pay a 453 million pound ($572 million) divorce bill, has claimed the first sliver of the award after seizing and selling a helicopter, her advisers said on Thursday.
Oil and gas tycoon Farkhad Akhmedov was ordered to pay around 40 per cent of his fortune to Tatiana Akhmedova by London's High Court in 2016 in one of the largest divorce settlements in legal history.
The judge ordered Akhmedov to hand his former wife a modern art collection valued at over 90 million pounds, English property worth 2.5 million pounds, a 350,000 pound Aston Martin car and a 350 million pound lump sum.
But he failed to do so and has called the proceedings misguided and wrong.
The London court granted a worldwide freezing order and Akhmedova has employed lawyers and asset tracing specialists to unravel a web of offshore companies and try to claim assets around the globe - in particular superyacht M.V. Luna.
The Eurocopter EC155 helicopter, once used to ferry passengers to Luna, was seized and sold for around 5.0 million euros ($5.7 million), according to her lawyer.
Luna, an expedition yacht built for Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich before Akhmedov bought it in 2014, has at least nine decks, space for 50 crew, two helipads, a vast swimming pool and a mini submarine.
"The net has been closing on Mr Akhmedov for a while now, and the sale of this helicopter proves that our enforcement methods are not just working but bearing fruit," said Jonathan Wild, an advocate and asset recovery specialist with Callin Wild LLC, who is representing Akhmedova.
A spokesman for Akhmedov said the net value of the helicopter was "negligible" in the context of the sums his former wife had spent on legal actions around the world.
"Mr Akhmedov and the Akhmedov family trust remain confident that their legal efforts will continue to be successful in preventing the seizure of any meaningful assets," he added.
Forbes estimates the net worth of Akhmedov, a former London oil and gas trader who earned a fortune in Russia's energy sector, at $1.4 billion. He features on the U.S. Treasury Department's list of Russian so-called "oligarchs" identified as close to President Vladimir Putin, published in January.