THE wife of Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky won a “quickie” divorce yesterday in what lawyers speculated could be the biggest settlement in British legal history.
Second wife Galina was said to have spent only two years of the 18-year marriage with Berezovsky, whose fortune — once estimated at more than £1 billion (€1.18bn) — was built up after they had separated.
It has been reported that the exiled businessman, who did not contest the case at the High Court, was expected to pay his second wife up to £100 million, more than double the previous record of £48 million.
Frank Arndt, a lawyer at Stowe Family Law, which specialises in big money divorces, said: “The Berezovskys were married for 18 years, have two teenage children and, although estimates of the couple’s fortune vary, it is indeed likely that any settlement eventually awarded to Mrs Berezovsky will dwarf the £48 million awarded to Beverley Charman in 2008.
“However, the biggest challenge facing Mrs Berezovsky might not be the size of the eventual settlement, but how the payment of that settlement can be enforced. This is a question that has been exercising family judges of late, and much can depend upon the locations in which the couple’s assets are held.”
Ms Berezovsky lives in London with the couple’s two teenage children, while he lives in Surrey with his girlfriend of 15 years, Yelena Gorbunova, and their two children. The couple met in 1981 when Mr Berezovsky, 64, was a professor of mathematics in Moscow earning £60 a month. He later set himself up in business as a car dealer, founding the first Mercedes dealership in the Soviet Union, then became one of the original Russian oligarchs when President Boris Yeltsin sold off state assets to favoured supporters for a fraction of their value.
He married Galina in 1991 after divorcing his first wife, Nina, with whom he has two further children.
Ms Berezovsky, 51, is said to have filed for divorce after becoming irritated at reports describing Gorbunova as the oligarch’s “wife”.
Divorce documents give the reasons for the split as the oligarch’s “unreasonable behaviour”.
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