A multi-millionaire Russian businessman has lost a UK legal battle with his former wife for a half share of her £40 million ($65 million) London home, British media reported.
Vladimir Slutsker, 56, a former senator who made his fortune in commodities and banking, said he had been "hoodwinked" into an arrangement which would deprive him of 50 percent share in the Chelsea property under Russian law.
But a High Court judge said on Sunday Slutsker had no rights to the house.
The businessman and his then wife, Olga Slutsker, a one-time Soviet fencing professional, bought the house for £6 million ($9.7 million) with joint family assets in 2000 and held it on trust for their two children. Olga Slutsker made her own fortune by setting up and then selling World Class Fitness, Russia's largest chain of fitness clubs.
The couple, who married in 1990, divorced in 2009, the Guardian reported. Olga Slutsker won a custody battle last year for their children.
"I do not see anything fundamentally unjust in Mr. Slutsker being unable now to set aside arrangements made long ago on the basis that he had not taken the trouble to understand how they might work out in the event of a breakdown of the marriage," Judge Justic Underhill was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying. "That is quite apart from any consideration of the fact that the arrangements may have suited him in his role as a senator."
Underhill also suggested Slutsker was not involved in the trust deal because he did not want "a paper trail" linking him to the mansion, in London's second most expensive street, "in the light of his political ambition."
"Neither [Slutsker] struck me as a reliable witness," the judge said.
Representatives of Vladimir Slutsker have appealed the London court’s ruling, Vladimir’s spokeswoman Yekaterina Shatalina told the RAPSI legal news agency.
“The London High Court’s ruling has not come into legal force. The house is under arrest pending the appeal court’s ruling,” Shatalina said.