‘Simply because Mrs. Potanina has suffered what she regards as a very significant injustice in that other country and has come to England to seek justice after the breakdown of the marriage does not in itself make the case appropriate for determination in England and Wales.’
Mrs. Potanina had also revealed to the court through documents that she was now only left with around £19 million, giving the bulk of her money to her sister in Moscow who helps look after their 99-year-old mother.
Both Mrs. Pontanina and her ex-husband had hired two of the country’s top divorce lawyers to argue their case.
Mr. Potanin had secured the services of legendary divorce specialist Baroness Shackleton – dubbed the ‘Steel Magnolia’ for her charm and tough negotiating skills. Mrs. Potanina had enlisted Frances Hughes, a leading family law specialist and Charles Howard, QC.
If her quest to secure £5 billion of her husband’s wealth had been successful, it would have been the largest ever divorce payout the case in British legal history.
The couple has three grown-up children. Mr. Potanin made his wealth in metals following the break-up of the Soviet Union but has disputed that his total worth is in excess of £15 billion.
Justice Cohen noted: ‘The parties were not always wealthy, but from around the mid-1990s Mr. Potanin was able to take advantage of the extraordinary opportunities that existed at that time in Russia to amass a fortune.
It is unnecessary in this judgment to go into any details beyond saying that He became massively rich. The parties’ lavish lifestyle reflected his wealth which the wife puts, taking figures from published sources, at some $20 billion.’
Justice Cohen’s judgment also contained details of the breakdown of the marriage, with Mrs. Potanina declaring:
‘On 17th November 2013 after an ordinary family dinner, Mr. Potanin told me that the marriage was over…my world fell apart. We had been together since we were 17; we had been married for 30 years…until that moment I thought we had a strong and happy marriage. I have not seen Mr. Potanin since that night.’