The High Court has extended an asset freezing order issued against a husband who claimed that a multimillion share sale was now worth just €400.
In Nightingale v Nightingale, a man had agreed during divorce proceeding to pay his ex-wife an additional sum after the sale of certain shares. Several years later, he emailed her to say that he had reached an agreement to sell the shares for €8 million and that he would pay “her portion”, in excess of €2 million, “as soon as it is released”.
At the Family Division, Mr Justice Holman noted:
“To any reader of those two e-mails, the husband was clearly telling the wife last summer that he would soon be paying to her “in excess of €2 million…
It is thus a matter of some surprise and, indeed, astonishment that in paragraph 11 of his statement made two days ago the husband now says that the entire amount receivable by him as a result of the sale of the shares in question, far from being of the order of €8 million, is a mere €400. He thus says that the amount due to the wife, far from being “in excess of €2 million”, would “amount to not more than €100”. It is obvious that so vast a divergence between what the husband was saying as recently as July 2013 and what he is saying now requires not only very particular explanation, but also production of clear documentary evidence which fully accounts for the sale of the shares in question and any net amount truthfully received or receivable by, or on behalf of, the husband.”
The wife was granted a freezing order in December last year. This declared that the husband “must not, whether by himself or by causing or permitting any other, in any way dispose of or deal with, or diminish the value of the proceeds of sale.” It also required him provide the wife’s solicitors with full details of the planned sale of shares, verifying these with an affidavit (sworn statement).
According to Mr Justice Holman: “The husband has not supplied one single document in obedience to [the freezing order].”
He described this as an “abject failure”, adding:
“…there remains a totally unexplained, vast divergence between the contents of his e-mails last summer, which I have quoted, which indicated the wife receiving something of the order of, if not in excess of, €2 million, and the proposition that her entitlement is now limited to a mere not more than €100. Since that gaping divergence has not yet been adequately explained or evidenced, it is, to my mind, patent that good grounds exist for renewing or extending the freezing order which was made on 19th December.”