In 2013 the Young v Young divorce case went to High Court and was referred to in the press as the ‘Brewster’s Millions’ case. It became a cautionary tale of the danger of hiding wealth and misleading the divorce court.
The Youngs moved in together in 1989 and married in 1995. they had two children and they separated in 2006.
The husband was a high wealth individual involved in property and he developed much of his fortune during the marriage.
When seeking divorce the husband claimed that a property deal had failed meaning his business had failed. The wife challenged this as a sham. By the time of the final hearing, the husband was bankrupt and he claimed debts of almost £30m. The wife argued he had ‘many hundreds of millions’ hidden in offshore trusts.
The wife argued that rich businessmen friends of her husband were using his money to pay her and ensure the children had funds. This led to a number of high profile businessmen giving evidence at trial on this issue.
The press investigated these ‘hidden millions’ and the lavish lifestyle of the Young’s.
The verdict of the divorce court
The case had been running for over 5 years before a 3-week hearing took place.
The judge found that he did have substantial assets when the property deal collapsed and that in, as of March 2006, he had assets of at least £45m and had hidden that £45m from the court. The judge deducted £5m for his debts, making total of £40m.
He was ordered to pay his wife £20m within 28 days plus costs of £5m and maintenance arrears of £1.5m. Mr Young was sentenced to six months imprisonment for contempt of court.
Mr Young plunged from a fifth-floor window in Marylebone onto spiked steel railings in December 2014. His death has never been fully explained, nor has the riddle surrounding the approximately £400m he is believed to have hidden in a string of offshore tax havens.
Dr John Brown, Barrister at Law and senior Barrister at My Divorce Barristers, comments ‘This is an important case, and a cautionary tale for the wealthy elite in divorce, which was litigated in the full glare of the media. What it shows is the real risk if you try to hide substantial wealth, and the punishments involved if any party attempts to mislead the courts.’
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