Natalia Potanina has found justice in an American courtroom in the latest twist in her divorce from Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin. After 30 years of marriage with three children, Ms. Potanina is struggling to locate her husband’s assets so that she can return to Russia and obtain a court order for half of them, in accordance with Russian family law.
A United States federal court judge in Brooklyn has ruled that two American executives for private equity firm Altpoint are compelled to testify with regards to investments made by Mr. Potanin, age 53, and his company Interros.
Interros, a conglomerate headquartered in Moscow, has interests that include mining, finance, agriculture, tourism, energy, retail and real estate.
Chief Financial Officer Eric Chan and Managing Director Yuki Narula have also been ordered to produce 13 categories of relevant financial documents including all emails between them, Mr. Potanin and Interros.
Ms. Potanina told the U.S. Court that her husband warned her that if she did not accept his verbal terms of settlement, she would get nothing from him.
For his part, the billionaire says the couple did not separate a year ago as his wife insists, but seven years ago, and that he has already made his wife a wealthy woman. He also alleges that he and his wife divvied up his assets some time ago, a statement denied by her.
With wealth estimated at $14 billion, Mr. Potanin has a reputation for philanthropy and endorsed Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffet’s “Giving Pledge” promising to give a significant portion of his net worth to the poor in undeveloped countries.
His spokesman recently announced that he had divested himself of most of his assets in order to fulfill his pledge, however, he still has plenty of money for extravagance, as it was reported that he paid $95,000 to a New York restauranteur for a 4 pound white truffle in October last year, the most expensive truffle in the world.
Ms. Potanina’s lawyers say the billionaire’s charitable donations are a scam intended to hide his wealth and deprive his wife of her share.
The parties are scheduled to be in court in Moscow later this month, a hearing that will no doubt be tainted by Russia’s infamous and corrupt judiciary.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang