The ex-wife of Russia's richest man wants half his $15 billion fortune

Vladimir PotaninREUTERS/Ivan Sekretarev/PoolRussia’s President Vladimir Putin (R) listens to Interros Company President Vladimir Potanin (2nd R) as he visits the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center in Rosa Khutor outside the Black Sea resort of Sochi, February 6, 2013.

Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin, who runs the world’s largest nickel producer,and Natalia Potanina divorced last year.

At the time, he offered his wife of 30 years a settlement including a monthly allowance of $US250,000 (that’s $US3 million per year) — as well as properties in Moscow, London, and New York.

But Potanina says she deserves way more from the richest man in the the country, who Russia’s Forbes estimates is worth $US15.2 billion.

“Natalia claims Potanin’s real wealth is held in offshore companies, and she’s launched an international legal battle to get hold of it,” CNN reports.

Under Russian law, anything acquired during marriage “should be divided equally.” And Potanina is arguing that, consequently, she deserves that half share. (For what it’s worth, half of $US15 billion could “buy her the New York Yankees twice, four Buckingham Palacecs, or 14 Airbus super jumbos,” according to CNN.)

In any case, Potanina knows what she’d do with the money.

“I want to give my shares to the state,” she told CNN. “I want to avoid corporate conflicts. I want such a big strategic object to be under the state control.”

Legal experts recently told The Moscow Times that Potanina faces an uphill battle as Russian courts do not usually take the time to investigate the elaborate legal schemes that oligarchs use to hide their wealth.

“Our courts want to limit the time they spend on the trial; often they will make a ruling based on the documents presented and refuse to wait for additional evidence,” Yana Teplyakova, a Moscow lawyer who has dealt with a number of high-profile divorce cases, told The Moscow Times.

Potanin, who has since remarried, had been planning to give away “at least” half of his wealth prior to the divorce.

“I also see it as a way to protect my children from the burden of extreme wealth, which may deprive them of any motivation to achieve anything in life on their own,” he said.

Check out the whole report on CNN >

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