The British son of a Russian oligarch being sued by his mother in a London court for allegedly helping his father evade paying a £453m divorce settlement has fled to Moscow, throwing into disarray one of the most expensive family breakdowns in history.
Temur Akhmedov was due to fly from Dubai to London on Tuesday to defend himself over his alleged role in the dispute between Tatiana Akhmedova and her ex-husband Farkhad Akhmedov, an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Ms Akhmedova accused Temur in January of helping Farkhad hide assets from her to escape paying the settlement, awarded by a London judge in 2016. Farkhad has disputed the decision and refused to pay, claiming that it was superseded by their divorce in Moscow 20 years earlier.
On Wednesday Temur appeared in the High Court via video link to explain that he had flown to Russia to stay with his sister instead of boarding the flight to London after failing to secure a loan to pay his lawyers’ fees. He said he had been without legal representation since the weekend.
An English court had served the commodities futures trader with a freezing order in July as part of the case to prevent him selling or transferring his assets. His loan agreement broke down after he failed to disclose details of his financial situation.
In an impassioned speech, he told the court: “I got stressed, I got scared, I don’t know what to do . . . All my intention was to go to the UK anyway but just to come here [to Moscow] because everything flipped upside down over the weekend. I’m not hiding.
“I’m 27 years old, I’m being sued by my mother at the end of the day,” he added. “Everyday I’m harassed, I’m drinking a lot.”
He told the court he was “not on the streets” but said he had nowhere to stay in London and no money for a hotel. He added he could not ask to stay with his mother because she was suing him.
Mrs Justice Knowles said: “You can take it from me right now that I expect you to get on a plane and come to London at the earliest opportunity after today’s hearing and I expect you to be in this jurisdiction ready to give instructions to your legal team — in person if needs be — but I expect you to appear in my court . . . next week.”
The fight has led to a global battle over family assets that include a mega-yacht named Luna, a helicopter and an extensive private art collection, and now pits mother against son.
The withdrawal of Temur’s lawyers at the weekend left him facing the possibility of cross-examining his own mother next week if he is unable to secure funding to pay his legal team.
Mrs Justice Knowles said the issue was “entirely one of his own making” but agreed to alter the conditions attached to the court order freezing his assets in order for Temur to obtain the loan and re-hire his lawyers. A new penal notice means Temur will risk imprisonment for committing contempt of court if he fails to appear in court on December 8.
This week’s hearing comes after a London property owned by Temur was searched after his mother secured a court order when he failed to hand over electronic devices to the English court and was accused by Mrs Justice Knowles of destroying evidence.
“If you don’t come there’s no loan and they [his lawyers] won’t get paid,” said the judge.
The case between Ms Akhmedova and her son was adjourned until Monday. It is expected to last three weeks.
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