My £20m divorce deal is a disgrace, blasts wife of 'bankrupt billionaire'
A TYCOON who claims to be bankrupt was ordered to pay his estranged wife £20m (€23.9m) yesterday after a judge ruled he had hidden his wealth from the High Court in London.
Mr Justice Moor said he believed Scot Young (51) was worth £45m (€53.8m) with "wads of cash in his possession", and gave him 28 days to pay Michelle Young the lump sum plus £5m in costs.
But Mrs Young (49), who wanted at least £300m (€358.9m) and said she had a right to expect a £20m home, called the decision a "disgrace" and said the saga was "not over".
She has now vowed to carry on her fight to prove her husband is worth more, and may appeal the decision, despite having endured a seven-year legal fight described by the judge as "quite extraordinary even by the standards of the most bitter of matrimonial breakdowns".
Yesterday, Mrs Young conceded those of us on the outside looking into her world would consider the £20m she has been awarded by a judge "a fortune". By implication, she was also accepting that her description of the award as "disgraceful" was unlikely to win much sympathy with the British public in these straitened times.
But for Mrs Young, the past seven years have turned into an all-consuming fight to the financial death with her husband; a "powerful maniac" in her words who is in reality worth "a few billion", and who has robbed her and their daughters of what is rightly theirs by concealing his assets offshore.
She has made it abundantly clear that she believes she has been stitched up not only by her husband but by the British justice system, which has failed dismally to get to the bottom of what happened to Mr Young's money.
"My case has exposed the woeful shortcomings of the family law system," she told a British newspaper. "I have made a stand for women. I don't want to go through all this for nothing, I want to see the law changed to protect women like me with children by men who conveniently find they suddenly have no assets when they want to go off with a younger woman."
It is impossible to understand the ire which burns in Michelle Young without grasping the magnitude of her fall from grace.
When she met Scot Young in 1988 he was an ambitious young entrepreneur yet to make millions in property and technology, while she worked in retail. The couple had so little money that they lived with Mrs Young's parents before they married in 1995.
Over the course of their 11-year marriage, Scot Young became spectacularly successful. The couple moved into a nine-bedroom Palladian mansion in Oxfordshire, with servants, and had a £6m (€7.1m) beach house in Florida and a £3m (€3.5m) yacht. Mrs Young claims her wedding ring cost £1m (€1.1m) and when they went out for meals they would spend £5,000 (€5,981) a time.
Then, in November 2006, the phone rang as Mrs Young was getting dressed at the Miami house. She was told by a representative of her husband, who had been increasingly distant of late, that he had lost all his money following a "meltdown".
She says she did not believe it from the start, but could not have envisaged the seven-year slog – and counting – that lay ahead.
Michelle and her daughters Scarlett (21) and Sasha (19) now live in a rented two-bedroom property paid for partly out of housing benefit. They have had to re-learn their realities; taking the Tube, shopping in markets; and for one of the girls, completing her education in a state school after the money for the £5,375-per-term Francis Holland school in London was cut off. "My daughters have lost their education," she said. "We have had to move four times in five years – all our personal belongings including books, clothes, pictures, are in storage. We are living from hand to mouth.
"I share a room with my younger daughter, I don't take them anywhere, I don't even know where or how they get their clothes and I don't go shopping at all any more."
Not that she has had much time for leisure pursuits as her life has been taken over by the 65 separate hearings since her marriage broke down, on which she has run up legal bills of £6.5m (€7.7m).
She has woken each morning at six, sometimes five, to go through the legal papers that fill more than 50 lever arch files. Her eyes are red from exhaustion and she is skinny as a rake.
"I have been working 12 to 14 hours a day," she says. "I know almost by heart every tiny piece of the case. Emotionally and physically it's been draining."
On her days in court she says there was "no time to prepare or think about what I was going to wear".
Her husband, in contrast, cuts a slightly shabby figure, despite the lustrous blonde girlfriend on his arm, 29-year-old fashion designer Noelle Reno.
Mrs Young, who always refers to her husband, impersonally, as "Scot Young", said: "There should be some guilt, some shame, some remorse for what he has done, if not to me then to our children. When I see him it makes my skin crawl."
Mrs Young, who struggles at times to keep a rein on her hyperbole, goes on to make a series of allegations about her husband's lifestyle.
Like so much in the case, her allegations are unproven; the judge's verdict on her was that: "She sees conspiracy everywhere," adding that he did not find her evidence to be "reliable".
He added that "extremely serious allegations have been bandied around like confetti" and suggested Mrs Young had "looked a gift horse in the mouth" when her husband offered her a £300m settlement at one stage.
"I know it must be difficult for people to follow," Mrs Young says. "It's like a movie." (© Daily Telegraph, London)