Hiding Assets Won’t Work

A former property tycoon, who attempted to hide his £400m fortune in an attempt to prevent his wife getting a fair share of the assets after their divorce was jailed this week for his “deliberate” refusal to prove how he lost the money.

Judge Mr Justice Moor jailed Scot Young for six months for “flagrant” contempt of court after he failed to disclose details of his finances to his wife’s lawyers, who are looking for evidence of the £1m she is owed in unpaid maintenance.

Young’s wife, Michelle, mother of his two teenage daughters, has been fighting to get the money a judge in 2009 ordered him to pay, which amounted to £27,500 per month.

Ordered to produce tax returns and complete detailed questionnaires on his finances, Scot pleaded poverty but led a champagne lifestyle according to his wife’s lawyers, who have been trying to find a trace of his fabulous wealth through investigative accounting.

It is vital to use such investigators to trace marital assets, as in 2010 the Court of Appeal ruled that covertly obtained documentation could no longer be used to reveal a spouse’s hidden assets in divorce proceedings. Instead, all information must come through legitimate sources and painstaking examination of accounts.

Therefore, in the case of Young v Young, if Mr Young still refuses to disclose his true financial position once he is released from prison, investigators will keep checking those tax returns, bank accounts and any expenses that have been paid out since the financial order was made. They will also look closely at his business dealings and check whether he has used nominees to acquire assets that should legally be disclosed.

The couple’s competing claims will now be argued at trial, which is due to be held later this year. In the meantime, Mrs Young’s investigative accountants will keep looking.

As an accountant; Roger Isaacs specialises within forensic accounting.

Posted in Blog, The Forensic Blog.