Putin’s old judo partner, 68, battles his 39-year-old ex-wife over ownership of £27m Surrey mansion


Vladimir Putin’s old judo partner is battling his 39-year-old ex-wife over the ownership of a £27million mansion in Surrey complete with tennis courts, a swimming pool and its own panic room.  

Russian billionaire businessman Arkady Rotenberg, 68, and his former wife Natalia Rotenberg, 39, began fighting over money in British courts over five years ago.

Three Court of Appeal judges are considering the latest round of the dispute with Lord Justice McCombe, Lord Justice Moylan and Lord Justice Newey given updates on Wednesday at a virtual Court of Appeal hearing. 

Written case summaries, prepared for the judges by lawyers representing all sides, show that the latest stage of the fight centres on the ownership of a manor house near Bagshot, Surrey.

Natalia Rotenberg (pictured above), 39, began fighting over money in British courts with her former husband Russian billionaire businessman Arkady Rotenberg, 68, over five years ago

The hearing has been adjourned and is due to resume in the new year. 

A judge who has considered the case at private hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London concluded that the house was held on trust, for the benefit of Mr Rotenberg, by a company called Ravendark Holdings, which was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in 2012.

Mr Justice Moor ruled last year that ownership of the house should, on that basis, be transferred to Ms Rotenberg, who is also Russian.

Lawyers representing Ravendark have mounted an appeal and say Mr Justice Moor’s ruling was wrong.

Case summaries show that Ravendark bought the house, which has a ‘panic room’, for £27.5million in 2012.

Lawyers representing Ms Rotenberg told appeal judges on Wednesday that Mr Rotenberg had not complied with a 2018 order to pay her £30,000 a month maintenance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, pictured with Mr Rotenberg as the pair attend judo training at the Yug Sport complex in February last year in Sochi, Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, pictured with Mr Rotenberg as the pair attend judo training at the Yug Sport complex in February last year in Sochi, Russia

They said orders to transfer properties in France, Germany and Luxembourg had also not been complied with.

Mr and Ms Rotenberg began fighting over money in 2014, with Mr Justice Moor initially overseeing hearings.

Court of Appeal judges have also previously considered issues and, by the end of 2017, an agreement had been reached, which Mr Justice Moor approved.

But litigation subsequently resumed and Mr Justice Moor has overseen further hearings.

The litigation hit the headlines in early 2018, when Mr Rotenberg, who has known the Russian President since he was a child, failed in a bid to keep his name out of the newspapers.

Written case summaries, prepared for the judges by lawyers representing all sides, show that the latest stage of the fight centres on the ownership of a manor house near Bagshot, Surrey

Written case summaries, prepared for the judges by lawyers representing all sides, show that the latest stage of the fight centres on the ownership of a manor house near Bagshot, Surrey

Mr Rotenberg, a long-time acquaintance of Mr Putin, argued that his name and that of his ex-wife should not feature in media reports because of safety concerns.

Journalists disagreed and editors at The Times persuaded judges to rule the pair should be identified, with the newspaper winning free speech fights in the High Court and Court of Appeal.

Four years earlier, Mr Rotenberg had been one of a number of people made the subject of sanctions by European Union ministers.

They froze funds – and imposed a ‘ban on staying’ in EU territories – against people whose ‘actions’ threatened the independence of Ukraine.

A ruling published by the General Court of the European Union described Mr Rotenberg as a ‘long-time acquaintance’ of Mr Putin, and cited business activities which undermined the ‘territorial integrity’ of Ukraine.

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