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Largest dispute finally ends with help of forensic investigators

Russian billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov says he has settled a legal fight with his ex-wife after she was given a divorce settlement of about £450 million thought to be the biggest of its kind made by a judge in London.

Tatiana Akhmedova was awarded a 41.5 per cent share of her ex-husband’s £1 billion-plus fortune in late 2016 but has seen very little of the settlement until recently, with one judge concluding that she had been a victim of a “series of schemes” designed to put “every penny” beyond her reach.

Undaunted, Ms Akhmedov employed forensic investigators and took legal action in the UK to trace her ex-husband’s extensive assets, which included a £350 million superyacht.

As part of the bitter fight over the assets, Mr Akhmedov even used their son Temur to help him hide assets and Ms Akhmedova was forced to take out a case against him, which she won, to the tune of £75 million.

Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “Many divorces are acrimonious and the more money that is involved, the more the parties can afford to spend on fighting one another through the courts.

“Unfortunately, English law is predicated on the assumption that parties will act honestly and with integrity. Those who lie and fail to disclose their assets all too often get away with it, especially if the other spouse is starved of funds with which to pay lawyers, enquiry agents and forensic accountants.

“Thanks to an algorithm developed by Greylist Trace, it is now easier than it has been to identify undisclosed bank accounts but tracing undisclosed cryptocurrency is still notoriously difficult.

“One option that is seldom used but which can be very effective is for the court to appoint a receiver over the assets of a spouse who is failing to comply with a court order. Receivers have wide-reaching powers and can even realise digital assets or assets in foreign jurisdictions.

“In one recent case, we were appointed receivers over the husband’s shares in his company and threatened to convene an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting to consider a resolution to remove him as a director from the board of his own business.

“The threat alone was sufficient incentive for him to ‘find’ the funds to pay his wife in accordance with the order of the court, despite having spent many previous months pleading impecuniosity.”

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