The 115m superyacht seized in February remains under arrest

While another court hearing is set for July, the 110m M/Y Luna remains under arrest in Dubai as part of an ongoing divorce battle.

Media reports in Dubai, including the UAE-based English language newspaper Gulf News, have reported that a luxury megayacht mired in a bitter divorce battle between a Russian billionaire and his ex-wife will remain locked down in Dubai port for the time being, despite arguments by a team of lawyers at an appeal hearing on Wednesday last week at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts to try and secure its release.

According to Gulf News: “The fate of $540m superyacht Luna now lies with a panel of three justices presided over by Sir David Steel, Deputy Chief Justice, DIFC Courts, who wrestled in the hearing a week ago with a vexing set of legal quandaries, chiefly, rightful ownership and legal jurisdiction leading up to the 115m superyacht’s temporary seizure in February.

“A ruling was not immediately available by Deputy Chief Justice Steel, Justice Sir Richard Field, and Justice Judith Prakash after a day’s evidence heard inside the DIFC Courts courtroom. Superyacht Luna remains embroiled in an ongoing legal fight between Russian oil and gas tycoon Farkhad Akhmedov and his ex-wife Tatiana Akhmedova whose agents successfully won a freeze order in February to temporarily hold the yacht at Port Rashid in Dubai.”

The temporary detention of the vessel stems from a December 2016 order when Tatiana Akhmedova was awarded a $641m divorce settlement by the British courts against her ex-husband, based on which, DIFC Courts issued the temporary freezing order to help her recoup the award. The award is the highest divorce settlement in Britain’s legal history.

Gulf News elaborated further on the background to the case: “On April 10, the DIFC Courts granted permission to Straight Establishment – legal owners of the yacht – to seek appeal of the original ‘freezing’ order. Last Wednesday, Straight Establishment’s lawyer Vernon Flynn argued that the freeze order should be set aside given that the client was never named in the British High Court divorce settlement. Straight Establishment is a separate legal entity, he submitted, and is now the rightful owner of Luna, thereby nixing not only any enforcement claims against the yacht’s seizure, but also negating DIFC Courts jurisdiction necessary to freeze the asset. Justice Steel asked Straight Establishment’s lawyer Flynn who was paying the legal bill to represent the entity at the hearing but Flynn declined to elaborate. Tatiana Akhmedova’s lawyer Michael Black countered that Straight Establishment is nothing more than a shell company still under the control of Farkhad Akhmedov and echoed the London High Court ruling last month that awarded ownership of the yacht to Tatiana and ruled that her husband was evading enforcement by creating a separate entity.”

In late April, Justice Haddon-Cave, in his written ruling from London High Court, said: “It is clear from the evidence that Straight was incorporated deliberately to make enforcement of the judgement against [Mr Akhmedov] more difficult by the interposition of a ‘fresh’ corporate entity, against which judgement had not been entered.”

With one of the world’s largest swimming pools on a superyacht, Luna is one of the most expensive private superyachts on the planet with an estimated value of US$540m. The yacht has nine decks, two helipads and a crew of 50.