An oil tycoon has won a landmark Court of Appeal case that will see the amount the millionaire has to pay to his wife slashed. Michael Prest, listed as one of Britain’s most influential black businessmen and founder of one of Africa’s biggest energy trading companies, Petrodel Resources, will no longer have to hand over £17.5 million of his fortune to his ex-wife Yasmin.
Mr Prest, who is thought to be worth in the region of £37.5 million, was married to his wife for 15 years. The Nigerian-born businessman had been ordered to pay his former wife cash and assets totalling over £17.5 million in a High Court hearing last October. The Court of Appeal last week handed down a written judgment that cut the bill by £9 million. The basis of the ruling was that although the couple had lived in a £4 million home in Bayswater, and jointly owned a number of other properties in Nigeria and the Caribbean, a number of other assets and properties were in fact bought via Mr Prest’s portfolio of businesses. It was therefore ruled that Mr Prest was not the sole owner of these properties, and they therefore should not have been included in the ‘matrimonial pot’.
Family law solicitors have condemned the judgement, commenting that commercial principles should not be applied to family law. A member of Mrs Prest’s legal team commented on the ruling: “Lord Justice Thorpe was right to say that if the law permits husbands to use company law measures to achieve their irresponsible and selfish ends, in other words to avoid making a proper payment to their former wives, it defeats the court’s overriding duty to achieve a fair result.” Mrs Prest is thought to have applied for permission to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.
This case is an extreme example of what can be at stake in divorce settlements, but nonetheless goes to prove the importance of substantiating any claims made in respect of assets.
The expert forensic accountants at Frenkels Forensics are often instructed on behalf of one spouse to value a business or any shareholdings in businesses. We can also prepare forensic accountancy reports and carry out the necessary investigations to trace the assets of one party involved in the divorce.
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