Farkhad Akhmedov

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Farkhad Akhmedov
Born (1955-09-15) 15 September 1955 (age 62)
Baku, Azerbaijan SSR
Residence Moscow, Russia
Citizenship Russian
Occupation Businessman
Net worth $1.5 billion[1]

Farkhad Temurovich Akhmedov (Russian: Фархад Тимурович Ахмедов, Azerbaijani: Fərhad Teymur oğlu Əhmədov; born 15 September 1955, is a Russian businessman of Azerbaijani origin. He has been described as a Russian oligarch.[2]

Background[edit]

Akhmedov was born in Baku, Azerbaijan SSR in 1955 to Azerbaijani parents – Teymur and Asadi. He was a young schoolboy when his father was sentenced to death for state-property embezzlement in a debauched case in the USSR by the KGB. He then fled to Moscow at the age of 15 with 48 rubles, studied to be a mechanic; spent several years in the Navy and graduated from the Moscow Veterinary Academy's Commodity Research & Animal Commodities department as a specialist in fur.

Akhmedov is known to have many close friends made in the early 1980s such as the late Boris Berezovsky, Pyotr Aven, Roman Abramovich and Eugene Shvidler. There are many photos of them in the 1990s and 2000s holidaying together with their families on the French Riviera, and notably their yachts being positioned nearby regularly.[3]

He is quiet about his private life and maintains a low profile. He enjoys spending time outdoors and entertaining guests from all over the world at his estate in the countryside of Azerbaijan.

Business[edit]

Russia[edit]

Akhmedov, who always lived in Moscow; started to expand his business to England in the early 1980s and began trading Russian-sourced Sable-skins on the London Commodities Exchange. In 1987 he founded Tansley Trading Ltd, which sourced and supplied both new western and second-hand Russian equipment to Russian gas producers.

Northgas[edit]

After establishing a business relationship by supplying them with equipment, in 1993 Akhmedov bought a 5% share in Northgas, an oil & natural gas field founded by US engineering company Bechtel, which is based in Siberia and has a field in the Arctic Circle. In 1998, he bought Bechtel's remaining share in the company because Bechtel did not see any future value in developing the field for oil and natural gas production.

In 2005, threatened with the loss of his license to produce gas by the Russian state, Akhmedov agreed to give Gazprom 51% of his shares, in return for not pursuing any claims against Akhmedov.[4][5]

In 2012 Akhmedov threatened to claim against Gazprom in the London Court of International Arbitrage for failing to abide by the 2005 settlement agreement signed by Akhmedov and the then-CEO of Gazprom, now Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev,[6] by increasing tariffs on gas production and reducing the quotas which Northgas was permitted to produced.[7]

Gazprom, threatened with the potential claim and with the highest-official signature from the Prime Minister of Russia at the time, decided to withdraw from placing the highest tariff on gas production and increased the quotas for Northgas.

Akhmedov sold his 49% remaining stake to Novatek in 2012[8][9] for an undisclosed and confidential sum – reports ranging from $2 – $6 billion USD. Northgas was the most efficient natural gas company in Russia under Akhmedov's leadership, at one time outputting up to 30% of Gazprom's gas with only 350 employees. Northgas' achievements in the gas sector propel the case for privatization in Russia.

AzNar natural products[edit]

AzNar is the natural beverages manufacturer established in 2007 by Farkhad in honor of his father Teymur, who was a director of the plant located in Goycay, Azerbaijan. AzNar's specialty is pomegranate juice, otherwise known as Nar juice in Azerbaijan (branded as Grante). It is sold as far afield as the United States, New Zealand, Japan and Europe. Akhmedov has invested more than $125m USD into AzNar and is continually seeking expansion in the fresh juices market. Akhmedov maintains that he runs AzNar as a hobby, as well as a tribute to his father - in a similar way to his friend Eugene Shvidler's Chateau Thenac venture.

Politics[edit]

Russia[edit]

In December 2004, Akhmedov became the first Azerbaijani-Russian senator in history; representing the Krasnodar region in the Russian Federation Council.

Akhmedov was Chairman of the Committee on Legal and Judicial Affairs in the Russian Federation Council from 2004 – 2009. He helped push through several laws regarding child protection, animal rights, and also in favor of decreasing bureaucracy within the state and increasing transparency for Russian officials.[10]

2007–2010 – Elected Senator representing the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug region in the Russian Federation Council.

2007–2010 Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe representing Russia.

In 2016, Akhmedov was credited by Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu - the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Turkey) for helping to improve relations between Russia and Turkey. Notably, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stated that I also have a friend Farkhad Ahmedov, a former Russian senator, whom I know since my work in PACEParliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Farkhad grew up in Russia, grew stronger in economic terms and even was a senator. Then he returned to Azerbaijan. He very much loves Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia. He was also in close contact with Putin and knows him well. Farkhad Akhmedov offered our president to write a letter to Vladimir Putin. He said that a letter will be more effective than numerous meetings of Turkish and Russian delegations. If we look at the contents of the letter, we will see that it reflects what Farkhad Akhmedov said. Proposals by Farkhad Akhmedov as a man, who knew Putin as a close friend, were very valuable.[11]

Azerbaijan[edit]

Akhmedov was a monitor from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in the 2010 Azerbaijani parliamentary election. Some say that Akhmedov's role was biased because he was born in Azerbaijan. However, Akhmedov did produce recommendations on future elections and the public noted that Ilham Aliyev's father, Heydar Aliyev ordered the execution of Akhmedov's father, Teymur. This could have made Akhmedov's position biased against the current president at that time, hence the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe continued allowing Akhmedov to be a monitor and even allowed him to have the final decision in whether to accept and recognize the elections, which Aliyev won. Many political analysts see this as being the most important decision, which was in Akhmedov's hands, in deciding whether to allow the Aliyev legacy to continue.[12]

To date, Akhmedov does not have any political roles and spends most of his time in Baku, where his late mother lived - according to Azerbaijani media. Akhmedov's late Father, Teymur, was buried near Akhmedov's residence in Baku. His corpse was found in 2012 following extensive searches and a personal intervention by Ilham Aliyev.

Personal life[edit]

Divorce Proceedings[edit]

In 2013, Akhmedov's wife, Tatiana Akhmedova, to whom he was married since 1993, filed for a divorce in the UK, where she resided with their two children. During the proceedings, Farkhad Akhmedov claimed the marriage had already been dissolved due to her disloyalty in 2000 by a Russian decree granted in the Moscow Court. However, no official records of the proceedings have been found by Russian lawyers or the UK court. As a result the UK court determined that "The inference to be drawn [...]is that the 2000 Moscow divorce documents [...] were, at all material times, forged.[13][14][15]

In 2008 the divorce petition filed in 2003 was dismissed after an official reconciliation.[16] Farkhad Akhmedov maintained that the relationship from this point on was not a real marriage, that he visited the UK only to see his two children, however, the court determined that the marriage was real based on photos taken of the children with their mother and father.[17] The couple finally divorced in the UK in 2015 after Tatiana petitioned for a divorce in 2013.[18] In December 2016, the UK High Court awarded Tatyana £453 million, a 41.5% share of the Akhmedov's marital assets[19] and one of the largest divorce payouts in UK history. Despite Mr. Akhmedov's claims of "special contribution", the judge did not depart from the equality principle, and ruled that due to both parties' equal contribution to the marriage, the assets obtained during the marriage are to be split equally.[20] Akhmedov referred to this judgement as "toilet paper" and has not paid his ex-wife the judgement awarded to date.[21][22] Due to Akhmedov’s lack of cooperation, the court placed a world-wide freezing order on all his assets.[23] In addition, in October 2017, Akhmedov's yacht "LUNA" was impounded in Dubai[24] by UK court order, in collaboration with the UK and DIFC in Dubai.[25][26] In mid-April 2018 the UK Court ruled that ownership of the yacht is to be transferred to Tatyana.[27]

On May 6, it emerged that Akhmedov's ex-wife hired Burford Capital, a finance litigation company quoted on the London Stock Exchange, to help her fund her legal actions due to Akhmetov's continued attempts to renege in his legal obligations.[28] Buford is chaired by Sir Peter Middleton, a former senior civil servant in the UK Treasury and an ex-chairman of Barclays bank.[29][better source needed]

On May 9, 2018, Akhmedov secured a favorable ruling in Dubai's commercial court in the legal battle over Luna. The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) court ruled that the freezing order on the Luna, which was obtained against Straight Establishment in February 2018 would remain in place but also ruled that the lower court had no jurisdiction over the Trust.[30] .[31]

In July 2018 it was reported that the case had been removed from the DIFC courts by Dubai's Joint Judicial Commission (JJC). It ruled the case must be heard by the local sharia courts on the grounds that it is a matrimonial dispute not a commercial or maritime matter.[32]

The JJC decision was reported as a major legal setback for his former wife and her backers Burford Capital.[33]

Akhmedov maintains that the UK divorce was politically motivated and continues to dispute the ruling in Tatiana's favour. On August 2, 2018, Mr. Justice Haddon-Cave ruled that Mr. Akhmedov was in contempt of court and warned that he faced a possible jail term if he entered UK.[34]

On August 12th Dubai’s civil courts considered an application made jointly by Akhmedov and the family trust which owns Luna to have the freezing order placed on the yacht lifted. [1]

The hearing was adjourned and a further hearing set for the end of August.

It was also reported in August that the British embassy had intervened to ensure members of the 50-strong crew of Luna had their UK passports returned to them after they were confiscated by the UAE authorities. [2]

Explorer yacht Luna, bought by a company related to Akhmedov from Akhmedov's close friend Roman Abramovich in April 2014

Akhmedov has five children, two sons from Tatyana and 3 children from other marriages.

Religion[edit]

British tabloids have claimed that Akhmedov is a practicing Muslim,[35] however according to his ex-wife, he did not comply with any Muslim rituals or traditions throughout their 20 years of marriage. The conflicting information is related to an ongoing divorce dispute between the two. Legal experts believe that the reason behind Akhmedov's religious claims is his intent to take the dispute to Sharia court where he has better chances of a favorable judgement.[36]

Philanthropy[edit]

Akhmedov has contributed over $150m to charitable causes and is a keen supporter of wildlife, stating that as the human population grows and starts to encroach upon the natural habitats of animals people have a duty to take care of species that are affected. Akhmedov donates through his AzNar foundation to worthy causes in both Azerbaijan and Russia. He is a supporter of children's charities, contributing millions of dollars to orphanages and schools in Russia and throughout Azerbaijan. Having fled from Azerbaijan to Moscow when he was 15 with only a few rubles, no knowledge of the Russian language and without help from his Mother, Akhmedov states that he feels compelled to support children who are in need.

Art[edit]

Akhmedov has paid for exhibitions of major Azerbaijani artists throughout the world, mainly in London and Paris. He is known in Azerbaijan to have the largest private collection of Azerbaijani art, which is displayed in his museum Nar Gallery[37] in the Old City of Baku and is open to the public. He is a close friend of Farhad Khalilov, chairman of the Union of Artists of Azerbaijan, and has organised exhibitions of his works in Europe several times. Most notably, in March 2015 at the Saatchi Gallery[38]

In 2015, Akhmedov emerged publicly as a major buyer in the art auction market. He purchased Mark Rothko's Untitled Yellow and Blue for US$46.5 million.[39]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Farkhad Akhmedov. Forbes. Retrieved on 3 May 2017.
  2. ^ Segal, David (2018-06-06). "A Russian Oligarch's $500 Million Yacht Is in the Middle of Britain's Costliest Divorce". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-06-06. 
  3. ^ http://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/shipid:201758/mmsi:538071095/imo:1010222/vessel:LUNA
  4. ^ Gazprom Wrests Back Control Over Northgas | Business. The Moscow Times (14 June 2005). Retrieved on 2016-05-04.
  5. ^ http://www.gazprom.com/press/news/2005/june/article63166/
  6. ^ https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB120416183086198405
  7. ^ Gazprom suspected of violating shareholders' agreement | Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI) Archived 10 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine.. Rapsinews.com (13 June 2012). Retrieved on 2016-05-04.
  8. ^ Munson, Lee. "Farkhad Akhmedov - $1.4 billion - pg.72". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-05-10. 
  9. ^ "Russian Billionaire's Ex-Wife Fights for $642 Million Order". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2018-05-10. 
  10. ^ https://www.forbes.com/2008/03/28/russia-billionaires-duma-biz-cz_hb_0401russiapols.html
  11. ^ http://azeridaily.com/news/23114
  12. ^ http://www.assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/AssemblyList/MP-Details-EN.asp?MemberID=5866
  13. ^ Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, AAZ -v-BBZ (clause 40)
  14. ^ Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, Akhmedov -v- Akhmedova (clause 2 proves Akhmedov & Akhmedova are AAZ & BBZ)
  15. ^ Legal Correspondent, Jonathan Ames (2018-08-11). "Dubai hears divorce feud over yacht". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2018-08-13. 
  16. ^ Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, AAZ -v- BBZ (clause 41)
  17. ^ Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, AAZ -v- BBZ (clause 50)
  18. ^ "Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, AAZ -v- BBZ (clause 3)" (PDF). 
  19. ^ Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, Akhmedov -v- Akhmedova (Clause 2)
  20. ^ "AAZ v BBZ and Others [2016] EWHC 3234 (Fam)". Retrieved 2018-05-07. 
  21. ^ "Russian Billionaire has given wife 'virtually nothing' of record £453m divorce settlement, court hears". The Telegraph. 
  22. ^ "Billionaire Akhmedov refuses to pay his ex wife $600m". 
  23. ^ "Russian billionaire's assets frozen after failing to pay £453,000,000 divorce bill". Metro. 2018-02-27. Retrieved 2018-05-10. 
  24. ^ "Vessel details for: LUNA (Yacht) - IMO 1010222, MMSI 538071095, Call Sign V7NV8 Registered in Marshall Is | AIS Marine Traffic". MarineTraffic.com. Retrieved 2018-05-07. 
  25. ^ Group, The Superyacht. "115m M/Y 'Luna' seized in Dubai - SuperyachtNews". Superyacht News. Retrieved 2018-05-07. 
  26. ^ Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, Akhmedov -v- Akhmedova (Clause 17.3)
  27. ^ Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, Akhmedov -v- Akhmedova
  28. ^ https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/burford-capital-helping-tatiana-akhmedova-to-recover-453m-from-her-oligarch-ex-husband-0x2vgdldw
  29. ^ Peter Middleton
  30. ^ http://nationalpost.com/news/world/russian-billionaire-still-clings-to-492-million-yacht-at-centre-of-record-divorce-as-dubai-court-rules-it-should-not-have-been-seized
  31. ^ "Billionaire oligarch in UK's biggest divorce wins latest battle with ex-wife after judges in Dubai say his £300m super yacht was seized unlawfully". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2018-05-10. 
  32. ^ http://www.arabnews.com/node/1345281/business-economy
  33. ^ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5990413/Oligarchs-ex-wife-Dubais-sharia-courts-300m-super-yacht.html
  34. ^ "Billionaire Russian ruled in contempt over divorce payment". The Times. 2018-08-03. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2018-08-13. 
  35. ^ "Oligarch in UK's costliest divorce wins battle with ex-wife over yacht". Mail Online. Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  36. ^ "A Russian Oligarch's $500 Million Yacht Is in the Middle of Britain's Costliest Divorce". Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  37. ^ NAR Gallery. Facebook.com. Retrieved on 4 May 2016.
  38. ^ Abstract azeri art to be showcased at the Saatchi gallery (PHOTO). En.trend.az (10 March 2015). Retrieved on 2016-05-04.
  39. ^ Pablo Who? This Tycoon Is Betting Half a Billion on Soviet Art. Bloomberg (31 May 2015). Retrieved on 2016-05-04.

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