Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum ordered to pay £554m to ex-wife in Britain’s most expensive divorce
Steve Bird, The Telegraph
December 21, 2021
Princess Haya was “blackmailed” out of £7 million by four members of her security team whom she paid to keep quiet about an affair she had with her British bodyguard, court documents reveal.
The revelation emerged as details of Britain’s most expensive divorce between the Jordanian princess and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum were made public after The Telegraph and other media won the right to report the case.
The 72-year-old sheikh, worth nearly £10 billion, has been ordered to pay a record £554.5 million to his ex-wife, 47, for the security, maintenance and education fees for their children.
Although the princess sought no money for herself, the sheikh has had to pay for her security costs, which have soared after the courts earlier found the ruler of Dubai had probably hacked the phones of the princess, her lawyers and security team. The sheikh has repeatedly denied the allegation.
The latest judgment is meant to secure a “clean break” and bring an end to one of the most acrimonious divorces ever played out in the English courts.
‘The princess must have been very frightened’
The 65-page ruling by Mr Justice Moor reveals how the princess withdrew millions of pounds from her children’s bank accounts to meet the demands of “blackmailers”.
The threats were alleged to have taken place after she had an affair with one of them while still married to the sheikh and living in his Dubai palace.
She later fled to the UK with her two children, Jalila, now 14, and Zayed, now nine, in April 2019.
Princess Haya became the sheikh’s second official wife after they married in April 2004. However, he divorced her in 2019 after he found out about the affair.
The judgment says she paid around £7 million “to these four security operatives”, who were named only as Mr A, B, C and D but all believed to be British. Mr B and C were paid a total of £4.5million, with Mr A receiving £1.2 million and Mr D, with whom she had the affair, allegedly also receiving £1.2 million.
Mr Justice Moor concludes: “This was clearly a most unsatisfactory episode. I realise I have not heard from the alleged blackmailers, but nobody should be blackmailed and HRH [the princess] must have been very frightened.”
During the hearings, which can be reported for the first time, the princess said she was “scared” by the blackmail threats and used her children’s accounts for “convenience”, adding she would pay it back.
“Those were the funds that I could get to make that payment quickly which were available to me,” she told the court.
The judge said: “It sticks in the throat that these people have been able to get away with this and have not been prosecuted.”
£140m and more in legal fees
The total divorce settlement comes to a record £554,168,065, £900m less than the princess had sought. It nevertheless far exceeds the £450 million awarded in 2017 to Tatiana Akhmedova, the former wife of the Russian billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov. That reward was reduced to £150 million.
Court documents also reveal how the princess and sheikh’s two-and-half-year battle has cost more than £140 million in legal fees, with the princess paying an “astronomical” £70 million, and Sheikh Mohammed likely to have paid far more.
Referring to the “opulent and unprecedented standard of living enjoyed” by the princess and her children in Dubai, Mr Justice Moor ruled that they should receive a £251,500,000 lump sum payment, along with an education fund of £3.04 million. The rest of the payments were ordered to be secured with a bank guarantee of £290 million, with an additional £9,628,065 million in arrears payments.
The settlement included nearly £21 million for chattels that she left behind in Dubai, including jewellery, horses and clothing. The sum also included nearly £2 million for a kitchen extension and pizza oven at her home “near Kensington Palace”, as well as £5 million a year to pay for holidays.
In what legal experts describe as a spectacular own goal, the judgment reveals how the sheikh must pay the princess and her children £11 million a year for security, in part because he was found to “constitute a grave risk” to her and their children.
Breakdown of record divorce settlement
The bitter and acrimonious divorce between the Jordanian princess and the ruler of Dubai has offered an astonishing insight into the lives of super-rich royalty.
The judge admitted the “opulent and unprecedented standard of living enjoyed” by the princess and her children in Dubai made his settlement appear “entirely out of the ordinary” for most people.
The ‘Clean Break’ Settlement:
£251,500,000: ongoing security for princess and their two children, to be paid in three months.
£3,040,000: children’s education fund.
£290 million: bank guarantee for children’s maintenance to cover £5,600,000 a year for each child until they complete university.
£9,628,065: Arrears payment.
The £554 million payout includes:
£10,988,228 annual security costs, including £3,149,924 for for security staff salaries and £1.5 million for replacement vehicles (including two armoured vehicles) and modifications.
£5,115,544: annual holiday budget, including £1 million for seen return flights on private jets, £667,400 for hotel accommodation, £300,000 on food, £36,000 for three helicopter return flights for weekends away.
£13,683,132: For jewellery (part of single chattels payment) .
£5 million: For horses.
£2,476,800: Annual upkeep of Kensington home, including £65,000 for food, £1 million for refurbishment, £500,000 wear and tear, £100,000 household goods, such as cleaning products and white goods, £57,600 for internet and electronic devices.
£1,009,800: Upkeep of Castlewood, the princess and her children’s country retreat.
£1,010,500: Leisure, including £250,000 for “presentations”.
£1 million: For cars.
£1 million: Haute couture clothing (part of single chattels payment).
£450,077: Children’s staffing, including nannies and nurses.
£277,050: Annual cost of animals including pets and horse care.
£275,000 to pay for children’s animals.
£1,912,254 for kitchen extension, pizza oven and curtains at princess’s Kensington home.
£280,446, for art studio at London home.
£39,000 sunken trampolines, similar to ones they had in Dubai.
£250 an hour fees for children’s tutor.
The courts had earlier found that on a balance of probabilities the sheikh, the founder of the Godolphin stables and a friend of the Queen, had attempted to kidnap his two other daughters, Sheikha Shamsa and Sheikha Latifa, as well as try to buy Parkwood Estate overlooking Princess Haya’s Egham country residence
Concluding the princess and her children require “watertight security”, the judge wrote: “Most importantly, in this regard, and absolutely uniquely, the main threat they face is from HH [the sheikh] himself not from outside sources.”
He added how the sheikh “will only have himself to blame” if he has overpaid for security “given his conduct to date”.
Even the annual award of £5 million for holidays – invariably requiring private jets or private yachts – had been inflated because of the “clear and ever present risk” to the princess from numerous threats, including the sheikh and terrorists.
Following the ruling, a spokesman on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said: “He has always ensured that his children are provided for.
“The court has now made its ruling on finances and he does not intend to comment further.
“He asks that the media respect the privacy of his children and do not intrude into their lives in the UK.”