Divorce tycoon loses passport bid


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The Independent Online

Property tycoon Scot Young today failed in his High Court bid to get his passport back.

Mr Young, whose estranged wife Michelle is fighting him for maintenance, says that he needs the passport - which was impounded almost three years ago as part of the penalty for non-disclosure of assets - to get his life "back on track".

Last week, he told Mr Justice Mostyn in London that he wanted to set up a business opportunity overseas involving a charity.

But Michelle Young's counsel, Edward Fitzgerald QC, said it should stay confiscated to preserve the "status quo" until the final court hearing of her claims in November.

Mrs Young, 48, wants a "forensic accountant" to examine the finances of her 50-year-old husband who, two years ago, was ordered to pay her £27,500 a month maintenance, but claims he is "well and truly bankrupt".

The couple, who both live in London and have two teenage daughters, separated in 2006. Neither of them were in court.

In his ruling, the judge said that "plainly" Mr Young was about to quit the jurisdiction.

"His asserted intention to travel to Africa to engage in charity work strikes me as highly implausible, and I consider that there must be some ulterior reason for his wish to leave the country.

"I am wholly satisfied that were Mr Young to depart, Mrs Young would be materially prejudiced in the prosecution of her claim for financial remedies."

Mr Fitzgerald said that if Mr Young, whom he called an "accomplished deceiver", left the jurisdiction, there would be no way of investigating his hidden assets, which Mrs Young believes run into hundreds of millions of pounds.

Nor would Mrs Young get any maintenance - which has not been paid since April 2010 - or a final settlement.

He told the judge: "Despite the pathetic figure Mr Young seeks to present in court, we suggest he is thoroughly dishonest.

"He had £400 million in 2006 and hasn't explained where it has gone."

Mr Justice Mostyn said Mr Young was "grossly in contempt" of court in relation to his maintenance obligations and that it was "hardly an excuse" for him to rely on his bankruptcy - which Mrs Young claims is fraudulent.

The judge said he recalled evidence from an earlier hearing to the effect that Mr Young continued to live at his Bayswater flat, where the monthly rent of £4,000 was paid for by a friend, as were all the council tax and utility bills.

There was also evidence that Mr Young carried around up to £400 in cash, had received cash gifts from friends of £10,000, £7,000 and £5,000, and that, in the early days of the separation, friends had paid maintenance for his family of £1.2 million.

The finding that Mr Young was in contempt of court in relation to his disclosure obligations remained in place, he added.

"It is for him to show that he has fully complied with his disclosure obligations, not for Mrs Young to show that he has not.

"A mantra that 'I believe I have complied' does not amount to a clear demonstration of compliance."

Confiscation of the passport for a further nine months was at the extremities of the court's powers but, said the judge, it was justified on the "exceptional" facts of the case, and Mr Young could, if the situation changed, apply again for its discharge.