Why trying to hide your assets is never a good idea
In 2021, Tatiana Akhmedova defeated her son and her ex-husband in The England and Wales Family Court (EWFC) in an asset recovery claim. The court ruled that her eldest son had been involved in helping her former husband, Farkhad Akhmedov, hide his assets to deprive her of £453.6 million – the sum she was legally awarded in their English divorce settlement in December 2016.
Having only received £5m in her settlement payment, and not a penny more, she sued her ex-husband, accusing him of trying to conceal his wealth. Since that point in time, Akhmedova had been trying to locate her ex-husband in order to freeze and gain possession of his assets which had been successfully awarded to her and is the largest settlement ever granted by a UK court to date.
In order to keep his assets away from his ex-wife, Akhmedov transferred the majority of his assets, including his £340 million super-yacht ‘Luna’ and his £110 million art collection into Liechtenstein-based trusts and foundations and other nominee companies in Panama and Cyprus.
During 2015 and 2016, Akhmedov involved their son Temur Akhmedov in depriving Akhmedova further by keeping his assets at a greater distance and transferred his Moscow-based property portfolio to him as well as significant sums of money. He also gave Temur legal authority to transfer assets to other parties.
Previously, Akhmedova had successfully obtained freezing orders against Akhmedov’s assets in Liechtenstein, but the Liechtenstein Constitutional Court later held that the English judgment against the assets was not enforceable. When Akhmedova learned of her son’s involvement, she applied ex parte to EWFC for a worldwide freezing order against him too. This was granted by Mrs Justice Knowles in July 2020.
Temur, who is a UK citizen living in London, maintained that he acted as a “mere go-between” and that the majority of the assets transferred were simply part of his father’s estate planning. Naturally, the EWFC was largely concerned with determining the involvement of Temur and others in the moving and covering up of Akhmedov’s assets. A WhatsApp message disclosed during legal proceedings, stated that Akhmedov told his son “that he would “burn” all of his wealth rather than give it to her”. Temur replied, saying he agreed, adding that she “didn’t deserve” a penny.
However, Mrs Justice Knowles, who had previously granted the worldwide freezing order against Temur and disclosure orders against representatives of some of Akhmedov’s Liechtenstein trusts in 2020, rejected the ruling of the Liechtenstein Constitutional Court and ruled in Akhmedova’s favour. Knowles stated that Temur was “his father’s lieutenant who has helped his father protect his assets from his mother’s claims and done and said all he could to prevent his mother receiving a penny of the matrimonial assets”. She went on to say that Temur was an “untruthful and unsatisfactory witness who lied in respect of various aspects of his evidence”.
The court ruled that Temur had helped his father hide millions of pounds from his mother after a divorce settlement and was ordered to pay £75 million to her. In Mrs Justice Knowles’ judgement, she ordered Akhmedov, and a number of businesses he had used to hide his wealth, to pay his ex-wife the hundreds of millions of pounds she was owed. Furthermore, Knowles said “the wife has been the victim of a series of schemes designed to put every penny of the husband’s wealth beyond her reach. That strategy was designed to render the wife powerless by ensuring that, if she did not settle her claim for financial relief following their divorce on the husband’s terms, there would be no assets left for her to enforce against.”
The consequences for father and son could be high, as any party in financial remedy proceedings have a duty of full and frank disclosure throughout and if any party fails to comply the court can make a costs order against that party on an indemnity basis.
If you are considering divorce and there are foreign financial assets involved, speak to our divorce specialist, Sheryl Perry and arrange a FREE informal consultation. Contact us today and make an appointment on 01245 463243 or email email@example.com