Judge awards record £26m divorce payout

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A "cruel, insensitive and ruthless" multimillionaire who abducted his four youngest children from their London home and took them to the Middle East has been ordered to make a record £26.3m divorce settlement.

The payout is the highest awarded in Britain and more than double any previous total. The judge included in the ruling a payment of £2.5m as a "war chest" to provide the former wife with cash to carry on her legal battle for return of her children.

Mr Justice Munby made provision for the "war chest" fund to be given back to the husband if he returned the children to Britain in compliance with earlier court orders.

Abdullah Masry, an Arab businessman, said the estimates of his wife, Mona al- Khatib, that he was worth £150m were inflated. He had sought to ward off her claims and said he was insolvent.

Mr Justice Munby said, in the judgment given in January and made available today, that Mr Masry was "untruthful" about his earnings and assets.

The judge said Mona, who had been married to her husband for 20 years and who has five children by him, claimed that he had earned, and continued to earn, vast commissions from brokering deals in Saudi Arabia. "She believes him to be worth in excess of $200m [£140m]," said the judge. "On his own case he keeps up two family houses, a house in Riyadah and a flat in Jeddah, owns no fewer than 11 motor cars, including a Rolls-Royce, three Mercedes and a Cadillac, employs a domestic staff of five, two maids, two drivers and a guard, is funding his eldest son's university education in the USA and sends his four youngest children to expensive private schools in Jeddah."