Property tycoon is jailed for contempt in divorce row over his ‘missing’ £400m fortune

‘Penniless’ businessman goes from party to party quaffing champagne, court is told

Led away in handcuffs, and carrying a Louis Vuitton overnight bag, a property tycoon began a six-month prison term yesterday, far removed from his customary, cushioned life of champagne and supermodels.

It was the latest twist in an acrimonious divorce battle which saw Scot Young, 51, jailed after a High Court judge ruled that he had “flagrantly” disobeyed orders to provide financial details to his estranged wife and was in contempt of court.

As he swapped his central London flat for a cell, Young’s girlfriend Noelle Reno, a 29-year-old model, said: “It’s not a great day, is it? I didn’t expect six months.”

After a six-year legal fight, it appeared that Young not only exhausted the  patience of his wife Michelle, 48, – the mother of his two teenage daughters – but also that of Mr Justice Moor, who sentenced him on two counts, insisting he had been given three opportunities to comply with court orders to fully disclose what had happened to his  reputed £400m fortune.

“I consider both the contempts are serious. They are so serious that a fine – which would be useless as I am satisfied you would not pay– cannot be justified,” the judge told Young. One explanation provided by the businessman was “absurd” and another was “next to useless”, the court was told.

The Youngs once shared a jetset lifestyle of private aircraft, luxury homes and fine dining. Mr Young is said to have made his fortune as a fixer for British and Russian billionaires, as well as buying and selling prestigious properties around the world. But after the couple separated in 2006, Mrs Young claimed that her husband  “secreted enormous assets” and left her and their daughters Scarlet and Sasha, now 19 and 17, destitute.

Unwilling to accept his assertion that he had lost everything in a failed Moscow property deal, she took him to court. In 2009, a judge ordered Young to pay his wife £27,500 a month maintenance, an amount which has now accrued to almost £1m.

But repeated attempts to get the tycoon to disclose his finances failed as he claimed he was bankrupt and penniless. Mrs Young’s lawyers said he had given the court the “runaround”. Edward Fitzgerald, QC, for Mrs Young, told the judge her  husband had given “absolutely no explanation” as to where his £400m had gone.

Despite pleading poverty, Young seemed to enjoy a lifestyle “consistent with considerable wealth”, the barrister added. “He is going from party to party with champagne glass in his hand and his current girlfriend, some supermodel or other, on his arm.”

Young told the judge he had “done everything in [his] power” to comply with the court orders but asked the judge to give him another 28 days to comply. He claimed he had been harassed by “eight private detectives” employed by his wife and suggested that he was under greater surveillance that a terrorist. Such scrutiny, he said, had made him unwell and he had recently been kept in hospital while relying on “gifts” from friends to cover his living expenses.

However, the judge ruled that Young’s time was up. “He has not complied,” said Mr Justice Moor. “There has been a flagrant and deliberate contempt over a very long period of time.”

And he said neither a fine nor a suspended sentence would be a sufficient penalty. Mr Justice Moor said the couple’s competing claims would still have to be argued at a trial – due to take place later this year.

Outside court, Mrs Young said: “It has been a very long, rough ride. I hope I can make a stand for other families who have been left in such dire circumstances after long marriages. We were married 12 years. We were together for 18 years ... Why should I just walk away? This money was made during our time together.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Executive, London

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Charter Selection: This highly prestigious luxury b...

C++ Software Developer / Image Processing / 3D Visualisation

£45,000 to £55,000: IT Connections Ltd: C++ Software Developer / Image Process...

Java / J2EE Developer / Agile / Linux

£30,000 to £40,000: IT Connections Ltd: Java / J2EE Developer / Agile / Linux ...

Software Development Manager / Java / J2EE

£45,000 to £55,000: IT Connections Ltd: Software Development Manager / Java / ...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor