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£400 Million Divorce Husband Jailed for Contempt of Court

Friday, 18 January 2013

It might not have the dubious glamour of a celebrity divorce but it certainly has all the drama. The battle between Scott Young and his wife Michelle has been playing out in both the courts and in newspaper headlines due to the size of the potential payout; one of the biggest in British divorce history.

The case, which has been running for nearly six years, is centred on an estimated £400 million in assets which Mr Young claims to have lost in a capsized property deal. Mr Young’s failure to detail the losses has tested the patience of the court beyond its limits and this week it jailed him for contempt of court.

Background to the £400 Million Divorce

Mr and Mrs Young were married for 12 years before splitting up in 2006 but they had been together as a couple for nearly 18 years. Mr Young is believed to have generated a fortune of nearly £400 million during his career. Starting out as a ‘fixer’ for Russian and British billionaires, he is thought to have amassed considerable sums of money before later becoming recognised as a property tycoon.

Around the time of the divorce in 2006, Mr Young claimed that he had been involved in a property deal, ‘Project Moscow’, which had turned sour and left him penniless. Mrs Young claimed that the losses amounted to more like £7 million and that the rest was being hidden offshore. The truth surrounding the disappearance of the supposedly £400 million in assets has remained a mystery as Mr Young has repeatedly refused to prove how the money was lost.

Jailed for Contempt of Court

Considering the scrutiny Mr Young has been under, he has been remarkably successful at keeping both Mrs Young and the courts from discovering the detail of his financial affairs. Mr Young alleged in court that he has been followed by up to eight private detectives appointed by his wife during the case. He has also failed to comply with two court orders to provide financial details to his wife.

In 2009 a court ordered that Mr Young pay Mrs Young £27,500 per month in maintenance but the payments remain outstanding. In that year he also received a six-month suspended sentence for not complying with a court order.

In the latest hearing, Mr Young claimed that he had done everything he could to show that he could not afford to make the payments. He requested that he be given a further 28 days to appoint lawyers and provide more evidence regarding his finances. Mr Justice Moore rejected this plea stating, “There has been a flagrant and deliberate contempt over a very long period of time”.

Conclusion

The case shows the seriousness with which courts will treat those it considers in contempt of court. If a court believes a fine or a suspended sentence is an inadequate response, this judgement makes it clear that there is a determination to resort to custodial sentences. If you would like to discuss the implications of this case or you need advice in relation to other family law issues please contact Jeetesh Patel via e-mail jpatel@rollingsons.co.uk or by telephone on 0207 611 4848.

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