Russian oligarch's superyacht court battle: Dubai Sharia Court dismisses ex-wife's claims

Sharia Court dismisses claim it has a duty to uphold UK ruling in high-profile divorce case of oil tycoon Farkhad Akhmedov, but the boat will remain docked in Prince Rashid Harbour

The luxury yacht, Luna, is at the centre of the most expensive divorce settlement in UK legal history. Getty 

The $500 million (Dh1.8bn) superyacht at the centre of the UK’s biggest divorce remains anchored in Dubai, despite a Sharia Court overruling the DIFC court's decision to uphold a freezing order on the boat.

Dubai’s Sharia Court on Wednesday dismissed claims by the ex-wife of Russian oil tycoon Farkhad Akhmedov that the UAE had a duty to uphold a 2016 ruling by the London High Court, which stated that Mr Akhmedov must give her £453 million.

The court ruled against the upholding of a freezing order that had been placed on Mr Akhmedov’s assets, including the yacht.

Tatiana Akhmedov was ordered to pay her ex-husband’s legal fees as part of the verdict.

Tatiana Akhmedova arrives at court which is considering legal issues in the divorce case against Russian billionaire businessman Farkhad Akhmedov, at a Court of Appeal hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London Thursday Feb. 1, 2018.  Akhmedova was awarded Pounds 453 million (US 645 million dlrs) in divorce settlement, but according to her legal team no payment has yet been made. (Rick Findler/PA via AP)

The 115-metre yacht, MV Luna, has been held in Dubai since February because of the legal dispute. It is currently docked at Prince Rashid Harbour.

Mr Akhmedov is petitioning against an English high court decision to grant his wife ownership of the yacht under the terms of their divorce settlement.

Despite the latest development, a spokesman for Ms Akhmedov suggested that the situation is far from clear.

“Both the significance and the substance of the Dubai Court of First Instance's ruling are yet to be determined. All that has been handed down at this stage is the decision. Until we have the full judgment together with reasons, we are unable to comment any further," said the spokesperson.

"Once published, Ms Akhmedova's lawyers look forward to the opportunity to scrutinise the court's reasoning and to consider any grounds for appeal. For now, nothing material will change and importantly MV Luna will remain in Port Rashid under arrest."

While the UK-imposed freezing order is in place on the boat, the UAE is now under no obligation to take action should Mr Akhmedov choose to move it.

The boat, which has an on board spa, swimming pool and two helipads, was purchased by Mr Akhmedov from Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich in 2013. It holds the distinction of being the 23rd largest luxury yacht in the world.


Read more:

Dubai courts maintain freezing order on Russian oil tycoon's superyacht

Dubai court hears Russian oligarch's battle to save luxury yacht

Matrimonial battle over $540m Russian superyacht puts DIFC Courts in spotlight


Lawyers acting on behalf of the Russian oligarch argued that the UK ruling could not be applied to Dubai.

Earlier this year, Dubai International Finance Centre courts upheld the UK ruling but Mr Akhmedov won the right to appeal that ruling.

Part of the issue is that the yacht is registered to a family trust fund called Straight Establishment. This has made it difficult to determine who the legal owner of the boat is.