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Businessman says he cannot make maintenance payments

A prominent Malaysian businessman going through a high profile divorce has claimed he cannot pay court-ordered maintenance due to problems with his cash flow.

Khoo Kay Peng, now in his mid-70s, is chairman of major investment group Malaysia United Industries, owner of a majority stake in retailer Laura Ashley. Reports suggest Mr Peng is one of Malaysia’s wealthiest men, with a fortune estimated at £400 million.

He was married to one-time beauty queen Pauline Chai for no less than 43 years. The couple had five children before she filed for divorce in 2014. His estranged wife now lives on a £30 million estate in Hertfordshire.

Last October Ms Chai won the right to have the couple’s multi-million pound divorce heard in the English courts. Mr Peng had sought to have the divorce decided in Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur and has appealed against the ruling that it should be held in England.

In the latest round of the ongoing divorce, Ms Chai claimed that the Malaysian businessman is now more than £400,000 in arrears with payments due to her for maintenance and legal costs.

But he insists he cannot make the payments at present, the Telegraph reports.

A Judge at the Civil Appeal Court in London said he was “not persuaded” by the husband’s claim.

Lord Justice McFarlane declared:

“The time has come to be absolutely plain in dealing with [the husband], in that those sums need to be paid and they need to be paid on time.”

The husband’s counsel argued that funds, awarded at a January hearing, should come from the sale of the estate in which Ms Chai now lives. This would make the point, he argued, that the money had to be sourced from somewhere. Timothy Scott QC also told the court that the monthly payments due exceeded the husband’s monthly income from his Malaysian business.

But Lord Justice McFarlane said he did not believe “it is in some way appropriate for the sum to be secured by a charge on the property in which the wife lives.”

If Mr Peng failed to make the payments, His Lordship added, his appeal against the decision to hear his divorce in England would automatically be dismissed.

Ms Chai has reportedly recovered some funds by securing a legal order against a UK bank account held by Mr Peng.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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