A fabulously wealthy diplomat and businessman, once described as the guardian of panache and prosperity by the African equivalent of Hello! magazine, is being sued for about (pounds) 300m in Scotland's biggest divorce action.

Chief Oladeinde Fernandez, 66, who has moved out of the opulent family home in Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh, to lay his head at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, is contesting the action by Aduke, his wife, claiming that the couple were never validly married and she is not entitled to the cash.

In her action at the Court of Session, Mrs Fernandez claims that between them she and her husband, who is also known as Antonio Deinde Fernandez, are worth (pounds) 600m and she wants a court order compelling him to sell oil, gold, and diamond interests so that the proceeds can be split.

Her counsel referred to one report which quoted Mr Fernandez's income as (pounds) 90m a month.

Mr Fernandez, a Yoruba tribal chief - family motto: Two rams cannot drink from the same bucket - astounded neighbours in the douce west end of Edinburgh 18 months ago when he was granted planning permission to build an orangery in his back garden.

He was also said to have spent more than (pounds) 200,000 transforming his seven-storey townhouse by applying 1000 books of gold leaf to the already ornate cornicing and balustrades.

As the Central African Republic's ambassador to the United Nations, he has travelled the world in one of several private jets and has been described as one of the world's richest men. Ovation International, the African equivalent of Hello!, lauded him in a feature.

''Renowned around the globe, the tall, dark and refined man of commerce and diplomacy is an embodiment of good form, surrounding himself with exquisite things only money can buy,'' the magazine enthused.

In a preliminary skirmish before full divorce hostilities begin, Mrs Fernandez asked Lord Brodie yesterday to order her husband to provided details of his resources. She is seeking a lump sum payment of (pounds) 5m and an allowance of (pounds) 75,000 a month for three years as well as the sale of their interests in the oil wells and gold and diamond mines.

According to Mrs Fernandez, the couple were married in Nigeria in November 1982 and separated in May this year when Mr Fernandez moved to France. Mrs Fernandez claims the marriage has broken down irretrievably because of his behaviour.

Mrs Fernandez says she owns the former matrimonial home in Drumsheugh Gardens, which is allegedly worth about (pounds) 3m, and an associated flat in Rothesay Mews worth about (pounds) 700,000.

The contents of the Drumsheugh Gardens house are said to be worth (pounds) 3m and the contents of Rothesay Mews about (pounds) 200,000.

She also owns the Chateau du Bois Feuillette in Verberie, France, which she says was a gift from her husband and which she cannot sell without his consent. She values the contents of the chateau at about (pounds) 1.5m and its wine collection at about about (pounds) 1m.

Mrs Fernandez also owns two plots in Palma, Majorca, which she says are worth about 900,000 euros, as well as a (pounds) 250,000 book collection.

In her action, she says she is unaware of the full nature and extent of her husband's matrimonial property, but insists that he is a very successful businessman who has made a large fortune during the marriage.

She gives details including a property at the Peninsula, Premimum Point, New Rochelle, New York, reputedly worth (pounds) 10m, which she fears he intends to sell to buy a yacht.

Mrs Fernandez lists a number of companies in the Cayman Islands in which she believes that both she and her husband own shares. She explains that, unless Mr Fernandez offers to buy her interest in the companies, the only practical means by which she can realise her assets would be by the sale of all the shares and will be seeking such an order from the court.

She alleges her husband has bank accounts in Scotland, Ireland, Switzerland, France, Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands and the US, some of which hold more than (pounds) 1m, and that he also has two Rolls- Royces.

She claims that between them, she and her husband have total assets of (pounds) 600m and they enjoyed a lavish lifestyle before their separation, employing a substantial staff, most of whom have now been dismissed.

Charles Macnair QC, counsel for Mrs Fernandez, told Lord Brodie: ''Expenditure was, by any stretch of the imagination, lavish.''

Mrs Fernandez's clothes would be flown over to Edinburgh from a Paris collection and she would make her choice before sending back the rejects.

Mr Macnair asked the judge to grant an order providing details of the husband's resources within seven days but Morag Wise, for Mr Fernandez, opposed the move on the grounds that it was premature and that it was not reasonable to expect him to comply within that time.

Lord Brodie said he was not satisfied that there was a basis at this stage for granting the application by Mrs Fernandez and it seemed impracticable to require Mr Fernandez to comply with an order in seven days.

He pointed out that proceedings were at an early stage, adding: ''It has been explained to me that he is a man of considerable wealth whose financial interests may not be straightforfward.''

It is understood that Mrs Fernandez intends to return to court in the near future for an interim cash award pending the full divorce hearing.

Mrs Fernandez is thought to be continuing to live in the couple's townhouse.

However, the vast rooms of the property, which is flanked on one side by the city's prestigious Bonham Hotel, appeared abandoned yesterday with no sign of Mrs Fernandez.


The Yoruba tribe, which numbers around 12 million, inhabits south-western Nigeria and the Republic of Benin in south-eastern and central Dahomey.

It is the second largest ethinic group in Nigeria.

Two thirds of the Yorubans are farmers and they produce about 90% of the country's cocoa.

Yoruba women do not work.

Many Yorubans are now either Christian or Muslim, but some have held on to their traditional religious beliefs and worship two major gods, Odudua and Shango, who are believed to take human form.