Russian businessman Vladimir Slutsker has lost yet another court battle with his ex-wife Olga. His attempt to claim 50% of their West London property has fallen through in the High Court.
The house in South Kensington was bought for £6million in 2000, but in the intervening years and with the addition of £1.5million worth of renovations, the property is now worth £40million. Situated in The Boltons, London’s second most expensive street after Kensington Palace Gardens, the family home has been the focal point of the acrimonious divorce case since 2009.
The house was bought with the couple’s joint funds, but the purchase was made through an offshore investment trust based in the Cayman Islands for the benefit of them and their children. However, as Olga Slutsker was named the ‘settlor’ of the trust, she was able to have her husband excluded as a beneficiary of the trust, and as such he no longer has any claim on the property.
Ever since their marriage ended, Vladimir Slutsker has been fighting to reclaim his stake in the property, arguing that he should be entitled to half of it under Russian law. However Lord Justice Lloyd has ruled in his ex-wife’s favour, deciding that Mr Slutsker’s arguments were simply “wrong”, and that he consented to the creation of the trust with full knowledge of its implications.
At a previous hearing in the case, Mr Justice Underhill dismissed Mr Slutsker’s claims that he had been “hoodwinked” into agreeing to the trust. The judge reasoned that he had never intended to use the property as his primary residence, while Olga and the children had continued to occupy it, and thus that Mr Slutsker has no claims to it.
Vladimir Slutsker made a substantial fortune through his ownership of the Russian investment vehicle Finvest, before becoming a politician as a member of the Russian Federation Council. Olga Slutsker is a former fencing champion, who made millions by opening a string of fitness clubs.
The couple married in 1990 and they have two children together: Misha, born in 1999, for whom the trust is named, and Anna, born in 2003. Mr Slutsker previously lost a child custody battle with his ex-wife, who argued that he spoiled the children by letting them play computer games and watch cartoons all the time. She also claimed that their house in Moscow was so heavily guarded as to resemble a “prison camp”.