A property dealer who is said to be worth £400 million has been given a six-month jail term after a High Court judge ruled that he disobeyed orders to provide details of his finances to his estranged wife. Mr Justice Moor said that Scot Young had been in ‘flagrant’ contempt during a long-running dispute over money with Michelle Young. He described one explanation Mr Young had given for not complying with court orders as ‘absurd’ and said that another response was ‘next to useless’.
In 2009, a judge ordered Mr Young to pay Mrs Young £27,500-a-month in maintenance. Although described as a ‘Property tycoon’ in the proceedings, he has insisted that he is bankrupt and cannot pay. Mrs Young claims that he has ‘secreted enormous assets’ and her lawyers argued that he had given the court the ‘run around’ after being ordered to provide full details of his financial circumstances.
It was submitted that Mr Young had been worth £400 million in 2006 but he had given ‘absolutely no explanation’ as to where that money had gone. Although pleading poverty, he appeared to be enjoying a lifestyle ‘consistent with considerable wealth’. Mr Young argued that he had ‘done everything in his power’ to comply with court orders and asked for another 28 days to provide further details.
The judge observed: “The husband says, in effect, that he is penniless and bankrupt; the wife contends that he is very wealthy, a man worth up to £400 million. She says he has hidden his entire resources to avoid his obligations to her and the children” He had entirely failed to comply with the maintenance order and arrears were now close to £1million.
Imposing an immediate sentence of imprisonment, the judge ruled that a fine or a suspended sentence would not be a sufficient penalty. He concluded: “Mr Young has not complied, there has been a flagrant and deliberate contempt over a very long period of time, and he has had more than sufficient opportunity to comply with the various court orders. The court cannot go on giving further opportunities indefinitely.”
Shaun Underhill, a Partner at Winchester firm Shentons, has welcomed the judge’s actions, saying “I sincerely hope that this case will serve as a warning to anyone else who is tempted to disregard the authority of the court”