Putin's judo partner and ex-wife in divorce showdown in London court

Vladimir Putin’s billionaire judo partner, 69, and his ex-wife in bitter divorce showdown in London court as they battle for ownership of their £30million Surrey mansion

  • Arkady Rotenberg, 69, and his ex-wife Natalia began fighting over money in 2014
  • Dispute over manor house near Bagshot is at centre of latest round of litigation
  • Three Court of Appeal judges are hearing arguments about ownership of house
  • Hearing in November adjourned and resumed today – due to end later this week

Vladimir Putin’s billionaire judo partner and his ex-wife today took the latest round of their bitter divorce showdown to a court in London as they battle for the ownership of their £30million Surrey mansion.  

A dispute over the ownership of a manor house near Bagshot is at the centre of the latest round of litigation featuring Russian businessman Arkady Rotenberg, 69, and his ex-wife Natalia Rotenberg.

Lord Justice Moylan, Lord Justice Newey and Sir Richard McCombe are listening to arguments about the ownership of the house, which is worth close to £30million, at a virtual Court of Appeal hearing due to end later this week.

The three judges, who are based in London, initially began considering arguments relating to the house at a hearing in November. That hearing was adjourned and resumed today.

Mr Rotenberg is worth £2billion and made his money in construction, becoming an owner of Russian contracting giants Mostotrest and SGM Group – which he sold in 2019 – in the late 2000s, according to Forbes. 

A dispute over the ownership of a manor house near Bagshot is at the centre of the latest round of litigation featuring Russian businessman Arkady Rotenberg, 69, and his ex-wife Natalia Rotenberg (pictured above)

The billionaire allowed his shares in Mostotrest to be passed over to a joint enterprise with state-owned investment company Vnesheconombank.  

Mr Rotenberg had been one of a number of people made the subject of sanctions by European Union ministers in 2014.

They froze funds, and imposed a ‘ban on staying’ in EU territories, against people whose ‘actions’ threatened the independence of Ukraine.

He has an indirect stake in Sheremetyevo Airport, which is located near Moscow in the town of Khimki and is understood to be Russia’s busiest airport. 

Mr Rotenberg (pictured attending judo training with Vladimir Putin in 2019 in Sochi, Russia) is worth £2billion and made his money in construction, becoming an owner of Russian contracting giants Mostotrest and SGM Group

Putin’s judo partner claims HE is owner of notorious £1bn Black Sea palace

A leading Russian oligarch has taken the heat by claiming that he is the owner of a notorious £1billion Black Sea palace, not Vladimir Putin.

The statement from Arkady Rotenberg – Putin’s ex-judo sparring partner and childhood friend – in January came after the Russian president faced mockery over the residence decked out with a pole-dancing hookah boudoir, casino and ‘aqua disco’.

The opposition immediately saw Rotenberg’s claim that he was converting the 190,000sq-ft sprawling structure near Gelendzhik, Russia, into an apart-hotel with 16 suites for elite Russians as a bid to take the heat off Putin.

Rotenberg told Mash Media: ‘This is a stunning place. We would like to build an apart-hotel there, this is why it has so many rooms.’ 

He said of the Gelendzhik Palace: ‘It won’t be a secret. I am the beneficiary.

‘It was a rather complicated object, there were many creditors. I managed to become a beneficiary.’

The leading Russian oligarch also holds the position of chairman of the executive board of Russian Ice Hockey Federation. 

In January this year, Mr Rotenberg claimed he was the owner of a notorious £1billion Black Sea palace, not Vladimir Putin.

His statement came after the Russian president faced mockery over the residence decked out with a pole-dancing hookah boudoir, casino and ‘aqua disco’. 

Detail of his latest dispute has been outlined in written case summaries prepared for the judges by lawyers representing all sides.

A judge who has considered the case at private hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London had concluded that the house was held on trust, for the benefit of Mr Rotenberg, by a company called Ravendark Holdings.

Mr Justice Moor ruled in 2019 that ownership of the house should, on that basis, be transferred to Ms Rotenberg, who is also Russian.

Lawyers representing Ravendark have mounted an appeal and say Mr Justice Moor’s ruling was wrong.

Mr and Ms Rotenberg began fighting over money in 2014 following the breakdown of their relationship.

Mr Justice Moor initially oversaw hearings and Court of Appeal judges have also previously considered issues.

By the end of 2017, an agreement had been reached, which Mr Justice Moor approved.

But litigation subsequently resumed and Mr Justice Moor has overseen further hearings.

The litigation hit the headlines in early 2018, when Mr Rotenberg failed in a bid to keep his name out of the newspapers. 

Lord Justice Moylan, Lord Justice Newey and Sir Richard McCombe are listening to arguments about the ownership of the manor house, which is worth close to £30million

Mr Rotenberg, a long-time acquaintance of Mr Putin, argued that his name and that of his ex-wife should not feature in media reports because of safety concerns. 

Journalists disagreed and editors at The Times persuaded judges to rule the pair should be identified. 

The newspaper won free speech fights in the High Court and Court of Appeal.  

A ruling published by the General Court of the European Union described Mr Rotenberg as a ‘long-time acquaintance’ of Mr Putin, and cited business activities which undermined the ‘territorial integrity’ of Ukraine.

Ms Rotenberg has told the three appeal judges that Mr Rotenberg is a ‘long-term friend of President Putin’ and has assets of about £3.3billion.

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