Unfair court ruled in favor of Vladimir Potanin

The Supreme Court will not review the case on the division of Potanin's property.
The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation (Supreme Court) refused to hand over the complaints of Natalia Potanina to the civil collegium for divisions of property acquired in marriage with Vladimir Potanin. The total amount of compensation claimed by Mrs. Potanin is about 1 trillion rubles. The ex-spouse of the businessman referred to numerous violations committed by the Moscow courts in reviewing her claims for the division of rights into Norilsk Nickel, Polyus Gold (now Polyus) and KM Invest. The claims were rejected, in particular, on the grounds for missing the statute of limitations. The sun agreed with this.

On the website of the Supreme Council there was information about the refusal to transfer complaints of Natalia Potanina to the civilian collegium. The court's judgments are dated 20, 21 and 28 March. The former wife of Vladimir Potanin asked the Supreme Court to reconsider the decisions of the Moscow courts that refused her property: the rights to Norilsk Nickel (now Mr. Potanin beneficiary 30.4% of shares), Polyus Gold (Vladimir Potanin owned 37% of shares until 2009) and KM-Invest (a joint company of Vladimir Potanin and Mikhail Prokhorov, after the division of their business in 2007-2009 was reorganized with the allocation of property, its successor is Vladimir Potanin, LLC HC Interros).

According to Mrs. Potanina's calculations, the compensation corresponding to her share in these assets should be about 1 trillion rubles.

Representative of Mrs. Potanin Pavel Konovalov confirmed to Kommersant the fact of dismissal of the complaints of the Armed Forces and announced his intention to continue challenging the refusal decisions. He noted that the plaintiff has so far received only two court rulings, one more is expected next week.

Vladimir Potanin's lawyer for divorce Tatyana Starikova declined to comment on "Kommersant", adding that they had not yet seen the texts of the definitions of the Armed Forces.

The property of the spouses was to be divided on the date of the actual termination of the family relations - the court agreed with the statement of Vladimir Potanin that this happened on January 16, 2007. Officially, the marriage was terminated in February 2014. Presnensky Court dismissed all claims of Natalia Potanina on the division of rights to these companies. The court refused to divide the rights into Norilsk Nickel because MMC shares officially belong to offshore companies, and the beneficial ownership (ex-spouse insisted that Vladimir Potanin is the beneficiary of offshore companies) does not know Russian law and this concept is absent in the Family Code. When Ms. Potanin filed a lawsuit to divide the rights to shares of offshore companies and the rights of the beneficiary to trusts that manages the shares of Norilsk Nickel, the court considered that he was identical with the previously filed suit and stopped the proceedings. The motive for the refusal in the section on the rights to "KM-Invest" and "Polyus" was that Natalia Potanina missed the statute of limitations. According to the court, she had to take measures to protect her rights in connection with the alienation of her husband's shares while they were still married to Vladimir Potanin.

The Moscow City Court agreed with the decisions of the Presnensky Court, after which Mrs. Potanin appealed to the Supreme Court. In her complaints, filed on February 14 in the highest court, she asked to revoke the decisions of lower courts and refer cases for new consideration. She referred to the fact that the Presnensky court admitted fundamental violations of the rules of law, which were ignored in the appeal.

The lawyers interviewed by Kommersant believed that the plaintiff's arguments were justified. "According to the terms for the division of property there is the position of the Armed Forces and a large court practice that even three years after the dissolution of marriage is not a preclusive term, after all, the spouse can learn about the violation of the law later," explained the head of the Bar Association "Adamova and partners" Irina Adamova. "The Presnensky court incorrectly applied the rules on the limitation period - this contradicts both Art. 38 of the Family Code, and the established practice. The term can not begin before the dissolution of the marriage, otherwise the spouse may not have a day to protect their rights and after the divorce you will not be able to demand the division of property, "said Olga Zelenaya, partner of the Soldatkin, Zelenaya and Partners.

The court's refusal to investigate the issue of beneficial ownership of property also surprised lawyers. "Arbitration courts use this institution, for example, by involving the beneficiary in subsidiary responsibility for the debts of his company. SOU in most cases do not yet understand this legal construction, although there have already been decisions of the Armed Forces on family disputes with the application of the concepts of trust and the beneficiary, indicating the need to take into account foreign law and the possibility of separating property that the spouse does not own directly, "explained Ms. Zelenaya. Irina Adamova pointed out that Russian law knows the concept of "beneficiary": "It is in the law on combating money laundering, in the Tax Code, in antimonopoly legislation. There is even a responsibility for not disclosing information on beneficial owners. That is, the term is not new, although it is not in the Family Code, but the courts did not stop to apply the concept of the beneficiary by analogy to the law.

However, the court did not see any grounds for reviewing the decisions of the lower courts. In particular, in cases concerning the division of rights for KM-Invest and Polyus, the Armed Forces considered that the limitation period should be calculated no later than November 17, 2013, when Vladimir Potanin proposed to resolve the issue of divorce, but Natalia Potanina's claims were filed in March and May 2017, after three years from that date.

According to the Arbitration Procedural Code of the Russian Federation, Natalia Potanina has the opportunity to file a complaint with the head of the civil collegium of the Armed Forces, and in case of a refusal in her, and a supervisory complaint requesting the transfer of the case to the Presidium of the Armed Forces. But the chances of success are small - in practice, such complaints are even less often met.