A 74-year-old millionaire accused of “squirrelling away” at least £27 million has won a family court fight over money with his estranged American millionaire wife despite being described by a judge as an “inveterate liar”.
Susan Baker, 75, argued that she should get a £9.3 million lump sum following the breakdown of her marriage to Andrew Baker, a former company boss who is English and lives in Somerset.
She said that was the amount she calculated she was due under a “separation agreement” made with Mr Baker.
But Mr Justice Mostyn has ruled that she should get £1.6 million.
Mr Justice Mostyn heard that the net value of Mr Baker’s “visible assets” was about £5.6 million – and the net value of Mrs Baker’s assets about £5.8 million.
Mrs Baker argued that Mr Baker, who had been chairman and chief executive Life Science Research Inc, had “squirrelled away” at least 35 million US dollars – about £27 million.
The judge, who considered arguments at a recent family hearing in London, has ruled against her and and concluded that the squirrelling allegation had not been proved.
He has decided, in a written judgment published online, that the lump sum Mr Baker should pay is £1.6 million.
Mr Justice Mostyn said the “effect” of his decision would be to reduce Mr Baker’s “deemed net worth” to about £3.9 million and increase Mrs Baker’s net worth to £7.4 million.
He heard that the couple had married in 1986 and separated a decade ago.
The judge, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court in London, said Mrs Baker had been “by far the better witness”.
Mr Justice Mostyn said Mr Baker was an “exceptionally poor witness” and described him as “rude”, “argumentative” and “truculent”.
“It is clear to me that the husband’s personality is a toxic mixture of arrogance and dishonesty,” said the judge.
“He is an inveterate liar.”
The judge said Mr Baker was in “poor health physically and mentally”.
He said he had made allowance for the fact that Mr Baker’s mental difficulties had probably “aggravated these traits”.
Mr Justice Mostyn said Mr Baker had “lied” to Mrs Baker during negotiations over the “separation agreement”, had “lied” to Coutts bank for the “purposes of obtaining credit”, and had “lied systematically to this court during these proceedings”.
But he said he was not satisfied “on the balance of probability” that a squirrelling allegation has been proved.
He said he was “not satisfied”, on an “assessment of the evidence”, that Mr Baker had “hidden funds”.
The judge said it would be “wrong to draw inferences” that he had “any such funds” based “simply on his dishonesty”.
Mr Justice Mostyn said: “The wife’s case stands and falls on the primary issue of fact, namely whether the husband has squirrelled away at least 35 million dollars.
“If he has not, then the issue is simply what award should justly be made to the wife from the husband’s visible assets having regard to the terms of the separation agreement.”