SBS veterans to storm Russian oligarch's superyacht

SBS veterans hired to storm Russian oligarch’s superyacht: Ex-wife employs crack team of elite soldiers to seize £225m ‘Luna’ after billionaire refused to pay £453m divorce settlement

  • EXCLUSIVE: Oligarch’s ex-wife instructs seizure over boat at centre of divorce
  • The £225million Luna super yacht was built for Roman Abramovich
  • Tatiana Akhmedova said tycoon Farkhad Akhmedov, 64, has hidden assets
  • She accused their son Temur Akhmedov, 27, of acting as his father’s ‘lieutenant’ 
  • Claims he colluded with oligarch to conceal fortune of nearly £70million

A Russian billionaire’s ex-wife battling for a £453million divorce payout has hired former SBS operatives to seize the £225million super yacht at the centre of the row.

The specialist asset recovery team has been instructed to take the 115metre Luna from Farkhad Akhmedov following a series of court actions over the vessel.

It is the centrepiece of a £453million settlement, only a fraction of which has been received by ex wife Tatiana.

The dramatic move comes just a month after a judge ordered her eldest son to pay the £75million he helped his father hide. 

Temur Akhmedov, 27, was accused of acting as his father’s ‘lieutenant’ to hide a fortune of nearly £70million owed to her, which led to a ruling ordering to pay her around £75 million.

The hiring of a the team used to secure the enormous boat will be led by former members of the British Special Boat Service – the naval version of the SAS.

Tatiana’s lawyers confirmed to MailOnline: ‘The Marshall Islands courts have formally awarded the M/Y Luna to Tatiana, we are of course using all options available to us to recover her as part of the rightful settlement awarded to Tatiana.

‘We have therefore retained the services of a specialist company to retrieve all assets owed to our client.’

Farkhad Akhmedov, 64, (left) an oil and gas tycoon, was found to have used his son Temur, 27 as a ‘lieutenant’ and colluded with him to conceal his fortune so that he would not have to pay ex-wife Tatiana Akhmedova, 48, (right) even ‘a penny’ following Britain’s most expensive ever divorce case in 2016

 In 2014, Mr Akhmedov bought a 377ft super-yacht called Luna (pictured) for an eye-watering £225million

The team recovering the boat will be former members of the SBS, not seen in archive picture

Assets separately seized so far include the yacht’s private £5million Eurocopter and its £1.5million Torpedo speed boat, customised with a 1965 Ferrari GTO steering wheel. A £40million global express jet has also been seized. 

The Luna remains under an international arrest warrant in Port Rashid. This was after an attempt by Farkhad to have her towed into international waters by tug was thwarted.

The boat’s captain, Canadian master mariner Gavin Young, remains aboard after being promoted by Farkhad whilst the boat sat in dock.

The Canadian government also confirmed it expected its citizens to adhere to court orders issued in Dubai and the UK. Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Christelle Chartrand said: ‘The Government of Canada reiterates that Canadians must respect and obey all local laws and regulations while abroad.’

Tatiana’s legal team have also encouraged Luna’s captain to cooperate fully and not interfere when the vessel is seized.

The Luna was built for Roman Abramovich in 2010 before being sold to Farkhad in 2014 for £225million.

It has at nine decks, space for 52 crew, two helipads, a vast swimming pool and a mini submarine.

Luna also has one of only two multipurpose custom made lifeboat-limousines in the world at a cost of over £2.8m each.

At the centre of the battle was the £225million superyacht – which he was ordered to hand over to his former wife after a judge held he had tried to hide it from her in an ‘elaborate’ plan to ‘evade and frustrate’ her by moving the 377ft vessel between an array of offshore companies 

Pictured: The 115m yacht is the focus of Britain’s most costliest divorce

As one of the world’s super yachts Luna boasts a 20-metre outdoor swimming pool (above), a helicopter landing pad and a mini-submarine

It was bought by Akhmedov from his friend Chelsea owner Roman Abramovitch in 2014

How did the battle over Britain’s biggest divorce settlement play out?

Farkhad Akhmedov and Tatiana Akhmedova were married for 20 years and enjoyed a lavish lifestyle. 

They had a £39million mansion in Surrey as their family home, as well as a £27.8million holiday home. 

In 2014, he bought a £225million 377ft super-yacht called Luna from Mr Abramovich. 

But the couple split and, at the end of 2016, a judge ordered Mr Akhmedov to hand over £453million to his former-wife.

A long, drawn-out legal battle began from there:

Late 2016 – Mr Akhmedov is ordered by a judge to pay £453million to his wife

January 2018 – Lawyers argued that the hearing was unfair, claiming that ‘the family court’s attitude was to espouse without restraint’ his ex wife’s case.

Ms Akhmedova, said that, despite the court’s order, she had to date received almost ‘nothing’ from her ex.

February 2018 – A source close to the businessman told MailOnline: ‘Mr Akhmedov has given his ex-wife a country home worth £20 million in Weybridge’. 

February 2018 – Three Court of Appeal judges ruled that the oligarch’s former solicitor had rightly been ordered to reveal the whereabouts of his art collection, worth more than £90 million.

March 2018 – Ms Akhmedova claims Mr Akhmedov is hiding assets to avoid paying her.

April 2018 – Mr Akhmedov is ordered to hand over his £183million superyacht to his former wife after a judge held he had tried to hide it from her in an ‘elaborate’ plan to ‘evade and frustrate’ his ex by moving the 377ft vessel between an array of offshore companies. 

March 2018 – Mr Akhmedov has £225m superyacht Luna seized by bailiffs – acting for the High Court – in Dubai. 

May 2018 – British web designer admits to having a long-term affair with Ms Akhmedov.

August 2018 – Judge Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said Ms Akhmedova is being ‘prejudiced’ by continued delay and said the gas and oil tycoon was in contempt.

August 2018 –  Dubai court refuses to return his superyacht. 

September 2018 – It is revealed that Mr Akhmedov offered his ex £4million-a-year for life plus an £80million lump sum when he dies – but she turned it down.

November 2018 –  Mr Akhmedov wins the right to keep his £225million superyacht and stop it being handed to his ex-wife.

December 2018 – Mr Akhmedov has his £5million helicopter seized and sold with the money going to his ex-wife.

Bailiffs acting for Ms Akhmedova took control of the Eurocopter when it landed in Turkey.

March 2019 – Mr Akhmedov wins battle to keep Luna out of the hands of his former wife.

An appeal court in the United Arab Emirates ruled an earlier decision by a lower court in Dubai impounding the luxury vessel had been wrong. 

Senior appeal judges ruled the divorce settlement awarded to Ms Akhmedova by a British court couldn’t be enforced in Dubai.

April 2019 – Mr Akhmedov announces he is personally suing his ex-wife Ms Akhmedova for £88 million for trying to seize control of the super yacht. 

January 2020 –  It is revealed that Ms Akhmedova will go head to head against her son Temur in the High Court.

May 2020 – Ms Akhmedova claims Temur played a ‘central role’ in placing the £450million she was owed by her ex-husband beyond her reach.

July 2020 – Judge makes an order freezing £94million of Temur’s assets. 

August 2020 – Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, who analysed the case at a trial in the Family Division of the High Court in London, said Ms Akhmedova should walk away with £453 million.

August 2020 – Judge in Dubai rules Mr Akhmedov is the rightful owner of the yacht. 

October 2020 – Ms Akhmedova has her son’s £30 million home in One Hyde Park searched for evidence that he helped his billionaire father hide his money from her. A judge Mr Akhmedov’s final appeal in his damages claim for the wrongful seizure of the Luna was declared ‘groundless’ by the Court of Cassation.

December 2020 – Temur claims Ms Akhmedova had two affairs with younger men while married to her Russian oligarch husband. 

December 2020 – Mr Akhmedov says he would rather ‘burn’ his money than pay his ex-wife’s divorce settlement.

December 2020 – Temur says he ‘did not know’ whether he owned a £346,000 Rolls Royce. 

They are capable of acting as VIP transport and being lifeboats at the same time. Ownership of the vessel was recently transferred to Tatiana by the flag state in a crucial legal victory.

Any assets leaving the ship will be seized on land wherever possible, according to Tataina’s legal team.

In 2017, the helicopter was seized when landing at an airport near Bodrum, Turkey.

Bailiffs instructed pilots to move the helicopter into nearby Greek airspace before a lengthy journey back to the Isle of Man.

The divorce case is noted as one of the largest and most bitter divorce cases to go through the English courts. 

During their marriage the couple enjoyed an incredibly lavish lifestyle, with a £39million mansion in Surrey as their family home, as well as a £27.8million holiday home. 

Mr Akhmedov – who was previously estimated to be worth upwards of £900million – was included in a ‘Putin list’, released by the US Treasury Department, which gives the names of 210 prominent Russians with close ties to the Kremlin. 

He owns a £90million art collection and has a private jet valued at around £42million.

Last month a spokesman for their son Temur said after the latest court ruling: ‘Like millions of young people, Temur has been caught up in the break-up of his parents’ marriage. He never sought to take sides or get involved but inevitably found himself sucked into the vortex of a bitter family dispute. 

‘His subsequent actions were only ever motivated by his desire to end the war between his parents.

‘While he fundamentally disagrees with this judgment, he would consider it a price worth paying for should it lead to a reasonable settlement between both the parents he loves.’ 

At the centre of the early divorce battle was the superyacht Luna – first bought in 2014.

There have been myriad to and froing over the enormous vessel with courts passing different judgements on who has rights to it.

Mr Akhmedov was ordered to hand over the vessel to his former wife after a judge held he had tried to hide it in an ‘elaborate’ plan to ‘evade and frustrate’ her by moving the 377ft vessel between an array of offshore companies. 

The yacht was seized by bailiffs in Dubai – with a local court refusing to return it to Mr Akhmedov.

But a different judge later changed his mind, ruling that the tycoon is the rightful owner. 

Then in October last year Farkhad’s final appeal in his damages claim for the wrongful seizure of the Luna was declared ‘groundless’ by the Court of Cassation. 

During the most recent UK hearings, the court heard details of the unbelievable wealth that was lavished on Temur as part of Mr Akhmedov’s determination not to give his ex-wife her divorce pay out.

Among the most sensational revelations to emerge was that Temur lost £35million ($50million) of his father’s money investing in stocks and shares in 2015 and was given millions of pounds more the following year, incurring further losses.

He told the court that he was a victim of ‘bad luck.’

Mrs Justice Knowles ruled: ‘The transfers of very large sums of money to Temur in 2015 and 2016 were driven by the husband’s overarching desire to keep his assets from the wife.

‘Temur understood his father’s purposes at the relevant times and worked with him to achieve the aim of preserving assets for the family by keeping them out of the wife’s hands.’ 

At 19 – while a student at the London School of Economics – Temur was given a £29million flat in One Hyde Park, the country’s most exclusive apartment block with another £5million spent on refurbishing it.

The court also heard how he was given a £120,000 Mercedes jeep at the age of 17, left home with an ‘unlimited credit card’ and later had a number of luxury cars, including a £346,000 Rolls Royce, which he claimed in court that he ‘did not know’ he owned.

The trial also heard sensational details about the breakdown within the family with Temur accusing his mother of having affairs with two men while still married to Mr Akhmedov.  

Ahead of last year’s trial, Temur’s luxury London flat was raided after Ms Akhmedova successful obtained a court order for documentary and electronic evidence to be seized.

Mrs Justice Knowles noted in her ruling: ‘All happy families are alike, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. 

‘With apologies to Tolstoy, the Akhmedov family is one of the unhappiest ever to have appeared in my courtroom.’

Ms Akhmedova is also involved in litigation to try and secure her divorce settlement from her ex-husband via a number of trusts and companies he established in four other countries; the US; Dubai; Russia and Liechtenstein.

She is backed by Burford Capital, a litigation finance firm that will take a slice of her payout if it succeeds in recovering her divorce settlement.

Ms Akhmedova is pictured with her son Temur in 2014 before their relationship deteriorated 

In a statement, Mr Akhmedov said: ‘Following the London High Court’s scandalous award to my ex-wife in 2016, Burford has embarked on a staggeringly expensive global tour of the world’s courts seeking to seize assets from me and from family trusts.

‘Having failed in four years to secure a meaningful judgment and got nothing from any court in the world, they returned to London to bring a cowardly action against our son.

‘Entirely predictably, given its original wrong and misguided judgment, the London court has ruled in favour of visiting ‘the sins’ of the father on an innocent and loyal son.’  

A family spokesperson added: ‘Tatiana’s relationship with Temur is now very strange indeed.

‘There is hope, certainly from Tatiana, this relationship can be restored over time. She of course loves her son. 

‘But it was appropriate she take this action and we are pleased though not surprised the High Court agrees.

‘It is important to note Tatiana is a private person, has not spoken during this case and wishes to move forward with her life.

‘She hopes she can focus on the future now she has removed Farkhad’s shadow from her life and it has been found in law she was correct in pursuing this case.’

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