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Man ordered to give ex-wife over half a billion in divorce deal

Man ordered to give ex-wife over half a billion in divorce deal

A former London oil and gas trader who built up a fortune in the Russian energy business has been ordered to pay his estranged wife £453 million (€538 million) by a divorce court judge.

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave made the ruling on Thursday following a private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

The judge has not named anyone involved in a ruling.

He said the man was 61 and came from the Caucasus and the woman was 44 and from eastern Europe.

The award could be the biggest made by a UK divorce court judge.

In late 2014, Jamie Cooper-Hohn, wife of financier Sir Chris Hohn, was awarded more than £330 million

Legal experts said the Cooper-Hohn award was ''certainly'' one of the biggest made in the UK.

But they said because family litigation was often conducted at private hearings, it was hard to be certain what a payout league table would look like.

Three years earlier, Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky featured in a multi-million pound divorce case. It was reported that his former wife Galinan Besharova had agreed to accept between £165 million and £220 million as part of a settlement.

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said he had awarded the woman at the centre of the latest case 41.5% of the "total marital assets".

The judge said the pair had met in 1989 while the woman was studying in Moscow and married in Moscow in 1993.

He indicated they had two grown-up children.

The judge said they moved to London in 1993 and had lived together in Surrey.

He said both had been given indefinite leave to stay in the UK and the woman had become a British citizen more than 15 years ago.

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said the man had worked in London as an oil and gas trader.

The judge said he had been very successful in pursuing business interests in the energy sector in Russia.

Nearly five years ago the man had sold shares in a Russian company for 1.3 billion US dollars.

Four years ago he had bought his children flats in a luxury London development costing £29 million and £7.2 million.

The woman had been a "housewife and mother" throughout the marriage.

She still lived at the home they had shared in Surrey.

The woman had contended that the "total net marital wealth" was just over £1 billion.

She said the "entire wealth" was "matrimonial in character" and had been built up during a long marriage through "equal contributions to the welfare of the family".

Her legal team had been led by barristers Nigel Dyer QC, Dakis Hagen and Henry Clayton.

She was not in court on Thursday to see Mr Justice Haddon-Cave deliver his ruling.

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said the man had not appeared at the final hearing of the case.

He said the man had made a "sudden decision" two weeks before a scheduled trial "no longer to contest proceedings".

The judge said the reasons for the man's decision were "unclear".

But the judge said he had carefully studied documents and witness statements previously lodged by the man.

The judge said it seemed that the man had argued that he was wealthy before they married and that he had made a "special contribution" to the creation of wealth.