A London businessman has escaped jail after a Judge agreed he had no money to pay his ex-wife.
After a making a fortune in the mining industry, the man had agreed to support his wife “for life” when they split in 1999. He was ordered to pay a £2 million settlement but £625,000 of that sum remains outstanding.
In the latest stage of a lengthy legal dispute, his wife had taken him to court, arguing that he should be compelled to pay the remaining sum along with 17 years of interest or be committed to prison. But, despite maintaining an expensive flat in Kensington, the husband insisted he was penniless and deeply in debt, saying he had applied for housing benefit and had become reliant on the charity of friends and the congregation at his local synagogue.
His former wife argued the one-time mining tycoon had created an “elaborate façade” around a concealed fortune. But Mrs Justice Roberts accepted the husband’s plea of poverty, saying the wife had failed to prove her case and he would not be jailed.
“I am unable to say that I am sure that he has had, or currently has, the means to pay the sums which I have found to be due to his ex-wife. I can find no reliable evidence of hidden or secret funds belonging to him.”
“She is owed a significant sum of money by her former husband but, at the present time, he has no means of discharging that debt. No stone should be left unturned in the ongoing and collective efforts of the parties to find a solution to this problem which is not, in any sense, of her making.”
The Judge acknowledged concerns expressed by the wife that she could lose her home.
“I should record the sincere sympathy which I have had throughout for the wife. I accept that she is facing an extremely uncertain future.”
The husband has been diagnosed with cancer according to reports. He appeared in court as an unrepresented litigant in person.