Business & Economy

Rybolovlev to appeal world record $4.5bln divorce

20 May, 2014

 * Ripples expected in Cyprus courts *

Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev is expected to appeal the record $4.5 bln divorce award to his estranged wife, after a Swiss court ordered him to give up just over half of his fortune estimated to be worth $8.8 bln.
The case, being fought in several courts around the world since 2008, will also have ripple effects in Cyprus, as the defence’s arguments have focused on the fact that the self-made fertiliser tycoon set up trusts on the island three years prior to the divorce without the knowledge of his ex-wife Elena Rybolovleva.
And the battle does not stop there as the war of words is expected to continue as lawyers are digging their trenches, with legal and trust experts expected to cash in on their expertise.
In papers delivered on Monday to both parties, the Geneva Tribunal of First Instance said Rybolovlev must pay 4.02 bln Swiss francs ($4.51 bln) to his ex-wife Elena who has also been granted property in Gstaad and in the ultra-wealthy area of Geneva known as Cologny, as well as custody of their 13-year-old daughter, Anna.
Her lawyer Marc Bonnant called it “the most expensive divorce in history” and in a joint statement with co-counsels Corinne Corminboeuf Harari and Caroline Schumacher added that “no one — not even a Russian tycoon who put his fabulous fortune into legal structures such as trusts and offshore companies — is above the law.”
Rybolovlev’s lawyer Tetiana Bersheda was quick to respond, casting doubt over the Swiss court’s ruling.
“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.

See related story, February 27, 2014: Rybolovleva rushes back to teenage daughter in Switzerland after $25 mln ring fracas