Tycoon hid €5m from his ex-wife in divorce
A BUSINESSMAN who concealed €5.3m in assets from his ex-wife during divorce proceedings is facing the prospect of perjury charges following a damning ruling by the Supreme Court.
Yesterday the Supreme Court said it agreed with the High Court that the man had been consciously and deliberately dishonest and "knowingly committed perjury and deceit".
Supreme Court judge Mr Justice William McKechnie said in his many years dealing with family law matters he had "never known of, or come across, a case where a party has so blatantly acted and where nothing short of utter contempt has been shown to the court".
"These matters should not simply be let rest here," said Mr Justice McKechnie.
Last night legal experts said the man, who cannot be named because of the privacy law surrounding family law proceedings, could face perjury charges on foot of the ruling.
Perjury, a common law offence, attracts an unlimited penalty or fine upon conviction.
The man's concealment of €5.3m in assets from his wife – when divorcing her – was described by a judge as "consciously and deliberately dishonest".
He must now pay his former wife at least another €2.26m in addition to whatever provision was agreed under an earlier settlement of family law proceedings.
The issue of whether he must pay a further €240,000 depends on the outcome of further High Court proceedings concerning whether he would have gained a personal benefit from a €650,000 cash bond included in the €5.3m valuation.
Judge McKechnie, rejecting an appeal by the man over orders arising from the divorce decree, described as "entirely justified" a High Court judge's finding that the man had been consciously and deliberately dishonest and that he knowingly committed perjury and deceit.
In a 2009 High Court judgment, Ms Justice Mary Irvine ruled that the man was dishonest and had committed perjury in failing to disclose four specific substantial assets valued at €5.3m.
A three-judge Supreme Court unanimously ruled, despite the man's material non-disclosure and consequent failure to make "proper provision" for the first wife in the earlier family law proceedings, that the decree of divorce could stand as the High Court had jurisdiction to make orders for proper provision in the first wife's later proceedings.
The first wife had argued that the divorce should be set aside on grounds of his deliberate failure to disclose the full extent of his assets during earlier proceedings.
She had brought judicial separation proceedings against him which, after a 23-day hearing, ultimately settled on terms involving him later instituting divorce proceedings.
A decree of divorce was granted and various financial provision was made under a settlement of both sets of proceedings made in 2001.
After the divorce, the man remarried. His first wife brought her further proceedings after discovering he had allegedly not disclosed significant assets in the proceedings leading up to divorce.
She sought a variety of orders which raised the possibility the entire order made in the earlier proceedings, including the divorce decree itself, would be set aside and also sought additional financial provision to reflect "proper provision".
The second wife was joined to those proceedings due to the possible impact on her should the first wife succeed.
In her judgment on those proceedings in 2009, Ms Justice Irvine ruled the man had been consciously and deliberately dishonest and committed perjury in failing to disclose four specific substantial assets valued at €5.3m.
She directed a payment of €2.5m should be made to the first wife as her share of the value of the undisclosed assets, including €500,000 to reflect the court's inference it was likely there were more undisclosed assets worth more than €1m.