Natalia Potanina planted a pig to the wives of Russian billionaires

The case-law of Judge Jonathan Cohen on the lawsuit of Natalia Potanina against her ex-husband can put an end to the "divorce tourism" of Russians in the UK.
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Until recently, one of the main intrigues of the Forbes rating of the richest women in Russia was the question: wouldn’t it be necessary to include Natalia Potanina, who claimed half of Vladimir Potanin’s fortune under the first number? Obtaining a claim amount of $ 6.3 billion would allow the former wife of a billionaire to easily squeeze Elena Baturin from the first place, and while the courts continued in four jurisdictions, this uncertainty remained.

Finally, on November 8, 2019, the judge of the High Court of England and Wales Jonathan Cohen resolved this issue. He not only confirmed the justice of Russian judicial acts on the divorce and division of property of the Potanins, but also dealt a crushing blow to the hopes of the spouses of wealthy Russians who want to receive generous alimony with the help of English justice.

Female tourism in London

Russian husbands prefer to get divorced in Russia, their wives - in England. In London, the Slutskers F 23, two generations of Golubovichi, Zimina and many others were divorced or divided. The London court established the content after the divorce for Natalia Rotenberg. Elena Gorbunova, the last common-law wife of Boris Berezovsky, F 136, requested and received an order for the worldwide freezing of the assets of the disgraced oligarch. Of the recent high-profile “Russian” cases, there was the success of Irina Vilinova against Igor Vilinov, general director of NCSP.

Over the past few centuries, London judges have had to listen to complaints from subjects from all over the former empire. A significant part was the claims of women who were undeservedly offended by the patriarchal laws of their historical homeland. That is why England has formed the world's highest standard for the protection of women and the maintenance of ex-wives and their children. The relevant standards were enshrined in Chapter III of the 1984 Law on Family and Divorce Proceedings, and guidelines for applying disputed norms were given by the Supreme Court of the Kingdom in 2010 in a decision on the divorce of a Nigerian couple living in the UK.

An English court can satisfy the ex-spouse’s application if, in the process of divorce or in the division of property in her homeland, she is faced with an unjust decision, or if, according to the results of the act, she becomes in need or will be put in a particularly difficult life situation. However, for this she needs to prove establishing a strong connection with British jurisdiction. The longer the ex-spouse lives in Britain, the deeper she takes root in this country, the faster the court will meet her in the matter of determining the amount of payments from the ex-spouse.

Potanina v potanin

On January 25, 2019, Judge Cohen of the Family Division of the High Court of England allowed Natalya Potanina to file her requirements with the ex-spouse for the appointment and payment of cash support. At the same time, he allowed Vladimir Potanin to file a counterclaim on the refusal of the ex-wife in her claims. Both statements were heard on October 3 and 4, 2019. The decision was made on Friday, November 8th, and he has every chance to become a precedent: it can lead to a review of established approaches not only to divorce strategies, but also to the choice of place of residence.

The judge’s conclusion was simple: when the Potanins divorced, the Russian courts simply applied Russian law. In §90 he added: “I agree that if she won, Natalya would have achieved a higher level of well-being, and she can easily prove her right to do so.” But the task of the English courts is not to correct the shortcomings of the legal systems of other countries. It would be arrogant on the part of the court to suggest that in matters of justice, England and Wales are the only benchmark.

The main reason for the refusal was the lack of a strong connection between Natalia Potanina and the English jurisdiction. The reasons why her calculation of a high British standard of justice did not materialize are as follows:

the purpose of the first visit to England on an investment visa was to consult a law firm specializing in divorce;

the applicant began to establish contact with the British jurisdiction only after the actual termination of the marriage relationship and joint venture in Russia;

England became at least the fourth jurisdiction in which Natalia Potanina tried to share property;

the relationship of both sides with Russia, where the spouses were born, lived, married and divorced, is incommensurably stronger.

Will the reference to the position of her husband in Russia help in the matter?

The claim for the order on the content was based on proving the knowingly wrongfulness of the Russian decision on the division of property, due to the high position of Mr. Potanin in Russia and the influence that he has on the Russian government and the judicial system. The word “corruption” alone is repeated three times in the text of the decision. However, the lawyers of Potanina did not provide conclusive evidence of the judges' dependence on the ex-spouse. Meanwhile, just such a standard was set two years ago in the case of Nikolai Maximov v. NLMK. In addition, in addition to the weaknesses of the factual side, the legal part of the position was also not perfect. The applicant's lawyers tried to hide:

the true amount of alimony for a minor child awarded by a Russian court;

expert opinion on Russian law on the absence of a trust concept in Russian law;

connection with England, artificially established solely for filing a lawsuit against Vladimir Potanin.

They also kept silent about the fact of applying for alimony and maintenance payments in Russia and about receiving those.

All this did not escape the attention of Judge Cohen. The lawyers of the ex-spouse recalled the procedural obligation of full and detailed disclosure of evidence. For the same reasons, the judge did not understand the question of whether Natalya Potanina would be in need if the decision she sought was not made. Most people will find it inconceivable that the person who was awarded $ 40-80 million claims that his reasonable needs were not satisfied.

The argument about the serious injustice that the applicant faced abroad, and which she came to rectify to England, does not make England and Wales a suitable place to resolve her dispute on the merits, the judge concluded. The Russian court, in accordance with Russian law, ruled on the divorce and division of property of Russian citizens residing in Russia. The judge summarized his decision as follows: if the applicant's requirements are satisfied, then virtually all restrictions for divorced tourism will be removed.

5 most expensive billionaire scams in history

Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos

How much the billionaire paid to his ex-wife - at least $ 35 billion

The couple met when they worked in the hedge fund D.E. Shaw in New York. After moving to Seattle, Mackenzie helped Jeff create Amazon. April 4, they announced the terms of the divorce, which is likely to be formalized in the summer: she will receive about 4% of Amazon's shares in free float, now their value exceeds $ 35 billion. Jeff will leave himself the aerospace company Blue Origin and The Washington Post. After the divorce, Mackenzie will probably be the third on the list of the richest women in the world.

Jeff Bezos will give a quarter of his share in Amazon to his ex-wife

Bill and Sue Gross

How much did the billionaire pay to his ex-wife - $ 1.3 billion

The scandalous divorce of Gross led to the emergence of a new billionaire and hurt another. In 2016, Sue Gross, the wife of the founder of the management company Pimco, filed for divorce and a year later became the owner of a fortune of $ 1.3 billion. Her trophies included a house in Laguna Beach worth $ 36 million and Picasso's Recreation (1932), which she later sold for $ 35 million. Bill initially tried to keep one of the three domestic cats, but Sue took them all. In 2018, Bill lost his place in the ranking of the richest Americans (Forbes 400), which included 14 years in a row. Now both run their own charitable organizations.

Harold Hamm and Sue Ann Arnall

How much did the billionaire pay to his ex-wife - $ 975 million

Harold Hamm and Sue Ann Arnall have been married for 26 years. The couple did not enter into a marriage contract. In 2015, after three years of litigation, the oil tycoon finally tried to end the marriage by writing Sue Ann a check for $ 974,790,317.77 from his Morgan Stanley account. She accepted the check, but then changed her mind, deciding that she wanted more, and filed an appeal. Now she demanded a large share of Hamm's fortune, the source of which was 75% of Continental Resources, valued at $ 13.7 billion. In April 2015, the Oklahoma Supreme Court put an end to the saga, satisfying Harold's petition for dismissing the appeal. The court found that by signing and accepting the check for storage, Sue Ann agreed to the terms of the settlement. Subsequently, Sue Ann financed a political movement that secured the dismissal of a divorce judge.

Steve and Elaine Wynn

How much did the billionaire pay his ex-wife - $ 850 million
The co-founders of the giant casino resort Wynn Resorts divorced (second time) in 2010. According to the terms of the settlement agreement, Elaine, a member of the Wynn Resorts board of directors since 2002, received 11 million shares, the value of which was then estimated at $ 795 million. Steve also sold approximately $ 114 million of shares that year - part, if not all, went to Elaine as part of the transaction. In 2012, she filed a lawsuit against Wynn Resorts, trying to sell part of her stake at 9%, and three years later she lost her seat on the board during a scandal due to a proxy vote.

Steve stepped down as CEO and chairman of Wynn Resorts in February 2018, after denial of sexual harassment. After that, he sold all his shares. Now Elaine, whose fortune is $ 2 billion, is the largest shareholder in the company.

Roy and Patricia Disney

How much did the billionaire pay his ex-wife - $ 600 million

Roy and his wife filed for divorce after 52 years of marriage in 2007. Then they were 77 and 72 years old, respectively. The fortune of Roy, the nephew of Walt Disney, at that time was about $ 1.3 billion. Until then, he was a regular member of the Forbes 400 rating. But because of the divorce, he lost almost half of his wealth and left the list. In 2008, he married screenwriter and producer Leslie DeMeuse. A year later, he died. Patricia passed away in 2012. A fund named in their honor with assets of $ 122 million (as of 2016) supports environmental and economic projects.