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British tycoon Scot Young jailed 6 months for hiding cash from ex-wife
A British property tycoon estimated to be worth £400 million (HK$4.97 billion) but who claimed poverty has been jailed for six months in a sign that family courts are cracking down on those who defy orders to reveal their hidden wealth.
Scot Young, 51, was said by the judge, Mr Justice Moor, to be in "flagrant and deliberate contempt" of the court for failing to disclose his financial assets to his wife, Michelle Young, 48.
The High Court decision in London came after years of protracted disputes over maintenance payments for Ms Young. The couple, who have two young children, separated in 2006. Four years ago, a judge ordered Mr Young to pay Ms Young £27,500 a month in maintenance.
Sentencing him, the judge said: "The husband says he is penniless and bankrupt. The wife … contends that he is a very wealthy man worth up to £400 million. She says he has hidden his entire resources to avoid his legitimate obligations."
As he was led away in handcuffs and carrying a Louis Vuitton overnight bag, Young said he was shocked and said: "This is a sad day for British justice." His girlfriend, fashion model Noelle Reno, said: "It's not a great day, is it? I didn't expect six months."
But Ms Young said: "What other choice do we have when someone is not complying with court orders, who is in contempt of court … who is trying to leave me and my children destitute?"
Mr Young, who represented himself, accused his wife of trying to commit him to prison out of "malice". He said he had "done everything" in his power and asked for more time to answer financial questions posed to him.
He told the court he had recently been detained in hospital under mental health legislation and had been unable to hire a barrister. He had been harassed by "eight private detectives" instructed by his wife and "made unwell", and was under greater surveillance than a terrorist.
Edward Fitzgerald QC, for Ms Young, told the court Mr Young had been worth £400 million in 2006 but had given "absolutely no explanation" about where the money had gone. "He is going from party to party with champagne glass in his hand and his current girlfriend, some supermodel or other, on his arm."
The judge said neither a fine nor a suspended sentence would be a sufficient penalty. The husband had paid nothing and his maintenance arrears had now risen to "close to £1 million".