Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin could conceivably lose half of his $15 billion fortune to his former wife of 30 years
This article originally appeared in The Moscow Times
As Russia's richest man, Vladimir Potanin, prepares to go to court over his ex-wife's divorce settlement, lawyers say he need not lose any sleep over the risk of her winning half of his assets: Such cases only highlight the rule of the strong.The Russian legal tradition is underdeveloped, meaning that whoever has more resources wins the case, legal experts told The Moscow Times.On Friday a district court in Moscow held a pretrial hearing into Natalya Potanina's case against her ex-husband, whose estimated worth currently stands at $15.2 billion, according to the Russian edition of Forbes magazine.In accordance with Russian law, Potanina is seeking half of all of her former spouse's assets acquired during their 30-year marriage — including half of his 30.3 percent stake in Norilsk Nickel, the world's leading producer of nickel and palladium.Potanin claims that the marriage effectively ended in 2007, and says the value of his assets back then was just $140 million.The official divorce was, however, only formalized by a court in February 2014, so Potanina claims that she is entitled to half of every part of her ex-husband's empire. And in an apparent bid to win over the support of the authorities, last April Potanina announced that in the event of victory, she would give her potential 15 percent stake in Norilsk Nickel to the state to control, Interfax reported.Potanin apparently had other plans for his assets. In 2013 he joined the Giving Pledge, a charity initiative set up by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, and vowed to give the majority of his fortune to charity.
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