Is timing on the side of billionaire in divorce settlement?

It is being called historic as of now. Whether it stays that way apparently is yet to be decided. What is certain is that the numbers currently being bandied about in connection with one billionaire's divorce are significant, and however things play out, the figures will remain in that category.

This matter isn't unfolding in Texas. Indeed, it isn't even happening in this country. Still, the $4.5 billion tag that is currently attached to it and some of the elements of the case offer a view of the kinds of issues that may accompany complex property division such as might be found in marriages involving people who have accumulated wealth in the oil industry.

This case deals with the divorce of Dmitry Rybolovlev. According to the Associated Press, the oligarch who made his fortune in potash fertilizer over the course of the couple's marriage has been told by a Swiss court that he must divide his wealth, estimated to be about $8.8 billion, with his ex-wife to settle their divorce.

Both sides are claiming victory, which is interesting in its own right. The issue upon which those declarations seem to hinge apparently has to do with a trust in which the majority of the Rybolovlev fortune is held.

Attorneys for the ex-wife say that the court's order, valued at more than $4.5 billion, means the judge found the trust to have been a dubious asset protection strategy used by Rybolovlev.

At the same time, a lawyer for the potash baron says the judgment confirms the trust's validity. Further, the lawyer suggests the timing of the trust's creation, coming as it did three years before divorce proceedings were initiated, should work toward the ex-husband's favor.

At the very least, Rybolovlev's attorney says that the court's decision is subject to two levels of possible appeal, and that she expects the settlement amount to be reduced in the end.

Source: The Big Story, "Russian oligarch faces $4.5 billion Swiss divorce," John Heilprin, May 19, 2014

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