Hutchence died `bankrupt'

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The Independent Online
PAULA YATES could get nothing from the estate of Michael Hutchence because he disguised the ownership of his pounds 20m fortune to avoid paying tax and was technically bankrupt when he died, it was alleged yesterday.

An investigation by the Australian newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, claimed that the INXS rock star used an elaborate network of trust companies to hide the ownership of his assets. As a result, his lover Ms Yates and the couple's daughter Tiger Lily could end up without a penny.

Documents were distributed to beneficiaries of the estate this week by lawyers in Hong Kong. They showed that apart from minor property investments and insurance policies, the singer - who committed suicide in a Sydney hotel room in November - owned very little.

Missing from the estate, said the newspaper, are his investment properties on Australia's Gold Coast, his French villa and London home, plus publishing and sales royalties.

The total assets from his estate amount to just 1.2 million Australian dollars (nearly pounds 500,000) against known liabilities totalling just under a quarter of that amount.

But the singer also gave a personal guarantee to cover the costs of Paula Yates's legal battle with her former husband Bob Geldof, which could total millions.

The alarm was first raised over the estate when Hutchence's mother Patricia Glassop and his sister Tina were told the singer did not actually own a luxury waterfront house at the resort of Surfer's Paradise, which he had told them was his.

That and two other Australian properties are held by a complex network of trusts, as is his villa in the South of France.

Barrister Colin Thomas Diamond, who legally controls Hutchence's assets, is said by the newspaper to have established an intricate web of trusts and holding companies throughout the world.

The documents distributed by lawyers this week also showed that at his London home he owned only personal effects.

Paula Yates's solicitor, Anthony Burton, said yesterday that he was unaware of the report. "I have absolutely no comment to make about Michael's estate," he said.