Oligarch's son flees to Russia as mother sues over 'hidden' divorce millions

Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent
·3-min read
<span>Photograph: PA Wire/PA</span>
Photograph: PA Wire/PA

The son of a billionaire Russian oligarch who is being sued by his mother over claims he helped hide hundreds of millions of pounds due to her in the UK’s biggest ever divorce settlement has fled to Russia.

Temur Akhmedov is being pursued by his mother, Tatiana Akhmedova, in the high court over allegations he acted as his father Farkhad’s “lieutenant” in a scheme to hide up to £453m awarded to her in a 2016 divorce.

The 27-year-old, who owns a £30m apartment in the exclusive London development One Hyde Park, had promised the high court he would fly to London from another luxury home in Dubai to attend the hearing. However, when the case got under way on Wednesday it was revealed that he had flown to Russia over the weekend.

Temur Akhmedov told the court he had fled to Russia because he was “stressed and scared” about the prospect of returning to London, and had instead sought refuge at his sister’s home in Russia.

Related: Most expensive family feud in history to take the stage at London court

“I got stressed, [and] I got scared. People are using surveillance teams … harassing me. I’m drinking a lot,” he said via video link.

The eldest son of Vladimir Putin ally Farkhad Akhmedov, Temur said he did not have access to enough money to pay for a place to stay in London, despite allegedly having a personal fortune worth tens of millions of pounds. He said he was unable to live at his One Hyde Park apartment because he had used it as collateral for a loan to pay his legal fees.

He said: “I’m not saying I was on the streets … [But] I’m not going to call my mum [and ask] can I live with you [when she is suing me].” He added that he was “not hiding” in Russia.

He told Mrs Justice Knowles he would return to London soon to give evidence in the trial.

He said he had not been able to agree terms on a loan to pay for his legal team, which is being run by the media lawyer Mark Lewis, so he intended to represent himself in the trial and would be expected to cross-examine his mother.

Alan Gourgey QC, who is representing Tatiana Akhmedova, suggested to the court Akhmedov probably still had access to significant funds, and that he was the registered owner of a Rolls-Royce with a personalised number plate and a Tesla car.

Gourgey said there was evidence to suggest that Akhmedov was continuing to live a very lavish lifestyle, adding that invoices and WhatsApp messages suggested outgoings “way in excess” of the £3,000 a week spending limit imposed by the court.

Akhmedov had said earlier that £3,000 a week was not enough to maintain the lifestyle to which he, his daughter and his daughter’s mother had become accustomed. “Now maybe for the average person that seems like a fucking crazy amount but in reality it’s different,” he said last week.

Akhmedova alleges that her Azerbaijani-born Russian husband transferred cash and assets to their son in order to avoid paying her £453m awarded by a London divorce court in 2016. Both men deny the claims and say Akhmedova was aware of the father-to-son gifts, which included the £30m apartment, at the time.

In her quest to uncover the award, she has won court orders to raid the apartment to search for evidence, and to force Google to hand over the contents of her son’s emails.

Akhmedova’s legal team, which is being funded by the litigation financier Burford Capital, had at one stage attempted to seize her former husband’s £300m superyacht, which had been built for Chelsea football club’s owner, Roman Abramovich, and has 10 VIP cabins and a 20-metre swimming pool.

A huge art collection, including pieces by Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, are also contested, as well as a helicopter and private jet.

The case is expected to continue on Monday.