In the divorce proceedings of billionaire Farhad Akhmedov, who, according to British journalists, is increasingly turning into a farce, a new plot conflict has emerged. The legal investment fund Burford Capital, acting on the side of the oligarch's ex-wife, has attracted the global detective agency Arcanum to cooperation. Arcanum's services can cost the fund tens of millions of dollars, while the agency has not yet become famous for anything other than self-promotion, and has no experience of participating in delicate family disputes. Experts believe that Burford has zero chances to change the situation even with the help of Arcanum.
As the Financial Times notes, the Burford Capital fund has spent more than $ 30 million to protect the interests of Tatyana Akhmedova, with whom Farhad Akhmedov divorced back in 2000. In return, the investor got only a malfunctioning private helicopter of the billionaire worth no more than 5 million. It seems that Burford shareholders viewed this investment as an extremely unfortunate gamble, as evidenced by a 70% drop in the fund's share value since March last year.
Desperate to hunt for Akhmedov's assets around the world and showing clear insolvency, detectives from Burford turned to colleagues from the Arcanum agency for help. This company has American roots, but its headquarters are located in Switzerland, and the owner, Ron Wahid, is an American of Bangladeshi, lives in London, in the Knightsbridge area. Arcanum introduces itself as "a strategic intelligence company providing services to supreme governments and multinational corporations" and claims its leadership includes former officers from the CIA, Mi5, Mossad and other leading intelligence agencies in the world. So, in 2011-2015, the former head of the Israeli intelligence service Meir Dagan was called the main consultant of the agency.
At the same time, Arcanum appeared in the media in fact only in one more or less high-profile investigation. As the FT reported, Ron Wahid met in London in 2009 with Kazakh dissident banker Mukhtar Ablyazov and persistently offered Arcanum's services, including in collecting information, about the then President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. However, even then Ablyazov suspected that the agency might be playing a double game, trying to lure him into a trap.
Indeed, several years later, evidence appeared in the press that Arcanum worked in the interests of the Kazakh authorities, and the services of detectives were paid from the country's budget. According to datnews.info, the surveillance of the former mayor of Almaty Viktor Khrapunov in 2012–2013. cost Kazakh taxpayers 250 thousand dollars a day!
Based on this figure, one can judge the approximate costs of Burford Capital for Arcanum services. If we assume that the surveillance of Farhad Akhmedov, as well as his relatives, friends and business partners, will be carried out for at least a month or two, then this could cost the customer many millions of dollars.
For Burford Capital in its current position, such a move appears to be an all-in bet. The task of the court investor is to find and seize at least some of Akhmedov's assets in order to secure a very dubious verdict in the amount of £ 453 million issued by the High Court of England. In the UK, the billionaire has nothing left, his only significant asset - a house in Surrey and a collection of paintings - he already gave to his ex-wife, without any court decisions. And in trying to seize Akhmedov's assets in the United States, Dubai and even in Russia, Burford suffered a painful defeat. The lost case on the illegal seizure of a yacht in the port of Dubai alone could cost this company more than $ 200 million in compensation, which the court investor will have to pay in counterclaims from the Akhmedov family trust fund.
Burford did not dare to enter the territory of Russia for a long time. But when his lawyers in other jurisdictions suffered an obvious fiasco, and the statute of limitations for applying to the Russian court was nearing its end, then literally a few days before its expiration, a statement on behalf of Akhmedov's ex-wife appeared in the Moscow Regional Court on the recognition of the decision of the English court and his compulsory execution on the territory of the Russian Federation. But the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, and the Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law under the Government of the Russian Federation stood up to defend the position of the Russian businessman, giving the court their conclusions that there are no grounds for the execution of the London court decision in Russia. As a result, the lawyers of the Russian businessman managed to defend his rights in both courts without much difficulty.
After that, Burford, wanting to take away from the businessman at least his Moscow office, attacked him through the Cyprus court, and against his son through the London one. By exposing the ex-spouse of the oligarch in an unsightly look in front of adult children, the court investors persuaded her to sign a lawsuit against her own son, accusing him that the latter, being excessively disposed to his own father, is trying to help him preserve his office space in Moscow with a demand to recover ... from his son the amount the cost of an office building. But, quite obviously, this will again turn into just a waste of money of the shareholders of the investment and litigation company.
At one time, Akhmedov offered his ex-wife truly fabulous conditions of detention, one might say the best that the spouse of any oligarch has ever received. But she went to court, apparently driven by greed and believing the promises of the court investors. Now Tatyana would certainly be glad, as they say, to back down, but she is already powerless to do anything: the signed contract with Burford does not allow her to make independent decisions.
Akhmedov was ready to defend himself in an English court, but did not do this, realizing the true intentions of the court investors. The British wanted him, as a shareholder of Gazprom and other Russian state corporations, to disclose confidential information concerning these companies: mineral reserves, geology of deposits, and other state secrets. The ex-senator, of course, did not do this.
Now, by hiring an "army" of retired colonels and generals of the special services, Burford Capital risks not only losing its last money, but also losing the rest of its reputation. Such dexterity of Arcanum, manifested in the course of the "Kazakh" confrontation, suggests that this agency seems to be ready to work for everyone who pays money, even if they are different sides of the same conflict. In addition, resorting to the services of Arcanum, the sudinvestor actually signs the helplessness of his own detectives. The only thing that his "marriage collectors" were able to achieve in 4 years was to practically ruin their own company.
And, I must say, these detectives were also not hired "from the street." For example, the director of the fund's own intelligence service, Daniel Hall, is also often associated with MI5, but the methods used by this "security" seem to be far from the noble missions of James Bond. For example, last year, the British media relished a scandal when Detective Hall allegedly tried to trade confidential documents received from one Burford Capital client for a spicy "home video" in the interests of another.
By attracting Arcanum to cooperation, a sudinvestor multiplies its chances of getting stuck in another similar unpleasant story. But experts say there are absolutely no chances to return investments in Akhmedov's divorce proceedings.