A former city trader has lost his appeal against a ruling that he should pay £235,000 towards his estranged wife’s legal costs.
Yan Assoun, 43, married wife Anais in London. He worked for French bank BNP Paribas and Swiss financial services firm Crédit Suisse. The couple had two children, but split in 2007. Both subsequently moved to the US in 2009.
Despite the move, divorce proceedings began in the English courts. In 2011, the Standard reports, Mrs Assoun was awarded £680,00, along with more £142,000 per year in maintenance and money for the children’s education.
But an additional ruling on the division of the couple’s wealth is still to come and in July this year, a judge ordered Mr Assoun to contribute to his wife’s legal costs. Judge Brasse, at Shoreditch County Court, said of Mr Assoun:
“The husband has been able to acquire a $3.3m apartment in Manhattan. This kind of spending ability is not within the wife’s reach, not within her wildest dreams.’
The former trader applied for permission to appeal, claiming:
“Judge Brasse ordered me to pay large sums in legal fees to my wife…(he was) wrong to make such an order”.
“He is making a mistake… I am currently acting in person because my recent income has dropped considerably. I can no longer afford a solicitor….”
“The house has no equity – the house belongs to the banks. I own an apartment worth $3.3m – it doesn’t mean I’m rich.”
The contribution to legal costs amounted to an increase in maintenance for his wife, he argued.
But Lord Justice Moses at the Court of Appeal told Mr Assoun: “The Court of Appeal cannot disturb the findings as to who is believed and who is not”.
“When the judge says you have an apartment in Manhattan worth $3.3 million, and a company with a recent turnover of $8 million, he is saying that the company could afford to pay you more. He is saying you could afford to pay yourself more.”
The judge refused permission to appeal, declaring:
“The judge in my view was entitled to take the view that Mr Assoun…was prosperous and would have sufficient finances to provide not only for his own, but also for his wife’s, legal expenses….The forthcoming hearing provides the best opportunity for the truth as to the husband and wife’s comparative assets to be revealed.”
The judge did, however, include a warning for Mr Assoun’s wife, saying:
‘If it should turn out that this man does not have £250,000 to pay the sum ordered, then the wife will have to give credit for that and it would count heavily against her. Woe betide the wife if the basis upon which she obtained this substantial order turns out to be false.”