THE girlfriend of a billionaire oligarch who died mysteriously has waged war with his two children over a £100m estate.
Vladimir Scherbakov, 56, was under investigation from the Kremlin on fraud charges when he died in June 2017.
He left behind a huge fortune including a multi-million-pound townhouse in central London and a sprawling £12m mansion in Surrey where he lived with partner Brigita Morina.
The final will he made in England two years before his death left the vast majority of his assets outside Russia to Brigita and her family.
But the £100m will has gone missing and Brigita is now embroiled in a legal battle at the High Court in London with Vladimir’s two adult children – Olga Scherbakova, 34, and Alexander Scherbakov, 25 – and their mum Elena Scherbakova.
The two children and their mum argue Brigita “must have torn up” the missing will on the basis she did not want to share the estate with his ex-wife’s son and daughter.
But Brigita, 42, instead insists Vladimir wanted her to benefit, adding that they planned to marry and had an “unbreakable connection and loved each other deeply”.
Describing him as the “love of my life,” she said spoke of their “love and commitment” to each other and he had wanted to provide for her and their family.
But Olga and Alexander claim Ms Morina has an “unhealthy obsession” with the Scherbakov family and “can’t get over” the fact he chose not to marry her.
Vladimir had two children with ex-wife Elena, before they split.
The tycoon subsequently began a relationship with Brigita in 2010, before he proposed five years later.
She is the former creative director of luxury Swiss watchmakers DeLaneau.
Their wedding was postponed, though, due to a dispute over the status of his marriage to Elena, The Times reports.
They lived together in England, where Vladimir’s assets are said to have included properties in Weybridge, Mayfair and a £400,000 collection of wine.
He was also a member of multiple elite London clubs, but is said to have left the UK for Belgium in 2016 to avoid extradition to Russia.
Vladimir was facing a probe into alleged banking fraud at the time, but the case was dropped following his death.
The criminal complaint was filed against him by Andrey Lugovoy, a former Russian Security Services agent and deputy in the Russian Duma, who was found by the European Court of Human Rights to have murdered Alexander Litvinenko.
Once in Belgium, Vladimir lived in fear and refusing “to eat fruit given by others out of fear that it may have been poisoned”.
The court also heard he was so terrified his conversations were being bugged that he only used encrypted forms of communication.
The probe was eventually dropped, but not before Vladimir was found hanged in a house in Belgium.
Following his death, his two families have been in a series of bitter disputes.
It includes a fight which resulted in a Belgian judge handing the right to dispose of their father’s body to his adult children.
Olga and Alexander claim their dad ripped up the will because he no longer wanted Brigita to claim any of his wealth.
In another struggle involving his offshore business interests in the British Virgin Isles, his companies were said to have “at least a nine-figure dollar value.”
Brigita and the adult children are now fighting over his final will, which left her and her family almost all his non-Russian assets.
The siblings insist their dad must have destroyed it because he no longer wanted Ms Morina to get “almost everything” he had.
But she argues the will still existed following Vladimir’s death and she was instead forced to hand over the document in exchange for £30m.
Hodge Malek KC, representing Brigita, told the court: “Brigita’s case is that the original English will existed after Vladimir’s death,” he told the court.
“It was inspected…for the purposes of verifying that it is the original. As such, as a matter of English law, Vladimir did not revoke the English will.
“The original English will was – at an unknown point in time – misappropriated and has since been suppressed by certain persons who have refused to deliver it up unless Ms Morina pays a substantial ransom sum.”
He explained an individual had contacted Brigita’s lawyers in 2020, saying he was “prepared to give the original English will in exchange for 35m euros.”
Although they firmly deny involvement and say the extortion claim was a “set up,” Mr Malek says the “irresistible inference” from the evidence is the siblings were involved in the “suppression” of the will.
He said they and their mum – who has stopped actively participating in the case and is now serving a jail sentence in Russia – had “attacked [Brigita] on multiple fronts, at great human and emotional cost.”
It included denigrating the quality of her relationship with Vladimir, which they characterised as an “affair” or “romantic relationship”, when in fact it was a “lasting and deep-rooted relationship”.
But Olga today denied any suggestion she was involved in the “suppression” of her father’s English will or any alleged extortion attempt.
She said she did not believe her dad would leave a will which benefited his “mistress” at the home of her mum.
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The siblings are fighting Ms Morina’s application for a grant of probate of the 2015 will and want a declaration their dad was domiciled in Belgium at death and died intestate.
The two-week trial continues.