Ruler of Dubai ordered to pay $730M to ex-wife and kids

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The ruler of Dubai was ordered to pay his princess ex-wife and their children more than $730 million in the most expensive divorce settlement in British history.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, 72, was ordered in London’s High Court on Tuesday to pay Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, a half-sister of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, a lump sum of around $333 million within the next three months.

He also has to immediately pay several million more for the education of their children — Al Jalila, 14, and Zayed, 9 — and then guarantee $385 million to cover future payments.

That includes at least $15 million a year, the bulk of which is for security — mainly to protect against threats of abduction by Al-Maktoum himself.

“Absolutely uniquely, the main threat they face is from [the sheikh] himself not from outside sources,” Judge Philip Moor said of the sheikh, who is also vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.

Al-Maktoum — a leading race-horse breeder — had previously abducted and mistreated two of his daughters by another marriage, and hacked the phones of Haya and her lawyers, the court had heard.

Al-Maktoum and Haya appear at the Epsom Derby with their daughter.
Al-Maktoum (right) previously abducted two of his daughters by another marriage. Above, Al-Maktoum and Haya (left) appear at the Epsom Derby with their daughter in 2018.
PA Images via Getty Images

Haya, 47, who was the youngest of the sheik’s six wives, fled to the UK in April 2019, fearing for her safety after she began an affair with one of her bodyguards, the court was told.

That bodyguard — who was identified in court — then blackmailed her along with other members of the security team, with the princess so fearful that she paid them nearly $9 million to hide the affair, the court heard.

She now needs a fleet of armored cars, which are replaced every few years, the court heard.

During almost seven hours of testimony, Haya said a large one-off payment would allow for a clean break and remove the sheikh’s hold over her and their children.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum with his wife Haya and their two children.
Haya, with her husband and two children, initially asked for $1.85 billion.
PA Images via Getty Images

“I really want to be free and I want them to be free,” she told the court.

The final tally of around $733 million is the most ever ordered by a British court, beating the previous record of around $600 million that Russian billionaire Farkad Akhmedov was made to pay in his 2016 divorce.

Still, it is less than half of the $1.85 billion that had been sought by Haya — who had been used to “limitless” funds during her marriage, her lawyers told the court.

She had an annual budget of around $110 million for her household in Dubai with another $12 million spending money, the ruling noted.

The couple in 2013.
“I really want to be free and I want them to be free,” Haya told the court. Above, the couple in 2013.
AP

“I remind myself that money was no object during the marriage,” Moor said of the “truly opulent and unprecedented standard of living enjoyed by these parties in Dubai.”

The sheikh’s lawyer, Nigel Dyer, had tried to fight the huge payout, calling it “absurd,” “ridiculous” and “quite unprecedented.”

He also accused the princess of misusing the children’s funds, noting the roughly $8.8 million she paid to blackmailers over her affair.

It was “the largest financial remedy award certainly ever ordered and I imagine ever made by a family court,” Dyer said of Tuesday’s ruling.

Haya and her lawyer, Baroness Fiona Shackleton, outside court in Feb. 2020.
Haya and her lawyer, Baroness Fiona Shackleton, outside court in February 2020.
REUTERS

Haya’s blackmailing lover, meanwhile, was only identified in court as “Mr. D,” and was described as a married former British soldier employed as her close protection officer, according to the Times of London.

“It sticks in the throat that these people have been able to get away with this and have not been prosecuted,” the judge said.

The sheikh is also the founder of the successful Godolphin horse racing stable and once received a trophy from Queen Elizabeth II after one of his horses won a race at Royal Ascot. He is rumored to have fathered at least 30 children.

With Post wires

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