Billionaire Tory donor questioned in court

Family Law|November 15th 2013

David Cameron’s leadership campaign backer has appeared in court to give evidence in Britain’s most toxic divorce battle, The Independent reports.

Poju Zabludowicz, a Finnish-born property developer and a renowned art collector, backed Mr Cameron’s leadership campaign in 2005. The tycoon had previously been a business partner of Scott Young and was summoned as a witness to the High Court by Michelle Young’s lawyers.

Business tycoon Scott Young claims he cannot support his wife and two daughters as he is bankrupt following an unsuccessful property deal back in 2006, project Moscow.

During the High Court hearing, Mr Zabludowicz admitted funding two ventures with Mr Young – a chip-and-pin technology company called Dione and a property deal dubbed Project Moscow. However, the property magnate denied any involvement with Scott Young in a company called BTG.

Rex Howling QC, acting for Mrs Young, asked Mr Zabludowicz about a BTG attendance note, dated September 2005 and recovered from Mr Young’s laptop, which said “SY and PZ” were “funders/beneficial owners” of BTG. Mr Zabludowicz’s financial adviser David Halpern was also recorded as having attended the meeting.

“I was not. Perhaps one of my trusts was, but I was not,” the property tycoon Mr Zabludowicz replied.

Poja Zabludowicz also said he doesn’t know whether Scott Young was a funder or beneficial owner of BTG.

A letter from Mr Young’s former lawyer Stanley Beller was also read out in court. It was addressed to the “Zabludowicz Trust”, dated a few months earlier and stated: “We are delighted to know that you and Mr Young are going to complete the purchase of 100 per cent share capital of BTG”.

QC Rex Howling asked in court: “Was Mr Beller writing to that trust because you were intending to buy the shares?” Mr Zabludowicz replied: “I don’t recall.”

The court also heard from James Creed, a friend of Mr Young’s of 20 years.

Despite also being a bankrupt, Mr Creed admitted borrowing £50,000 against his own home to lend to his friend for legal fees. “Why would you expose yourself to future financial risk by borrowing money to assist Scot Young?” Mr Howling said.

“He is my friend and he needed help,” Mr Creed said.

Mr Howling asked Mr Creed about other alleged loans which he had made to Mr Young over the years, amounting to £600,000.

“I have never had £600 000,” said Mr Creed.

The court also heard from Mark Besant, an accountant from FTI Consulting. Mr Besant lamented the extent to which Mr Young had co-operated with court orders to disclose information.

“We had identified quite a large number of gaps in the information set….In short, it appears that Mr Young’s disclosure was incomplete and, in some respects, disingenuous”.

After examining Mr Young’s finances for five months, the accountant concluded the next stage of the investigation should target eight management companies, 30 banks and 30 law firms in a bid to uncover his assets.

The accountant also produced an “I2 chart” – a visualisation of assets and entities linked to the tycoon – that he said was the “size of a dinner table”.

Mr Justice Moor said: “I did try to do that (look at the I2 chart) and it looked very complicated.

”This is one of the most complicated financial remedy cases ever to come before the court“.

The hearing continues.

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