MICHELLE YOUNG vs SCOT YOUNG
Bullet points for Insight interview
Various representations made by SY or by solicitors and banks on his behalf up to early 2006 placed his net worth at sums in the hundreds of millions.
His assets comprised numerous properties and investments in successful businesses in the UK and overseas some held in his own title but many via nominees, trusts and other entities on his behalf.
SY suggests that from early 2006 his hitherto high net worth eroded rapidly owing the various failures of specific investments, notably the Moscow Project, with the result that his financial position overall became negative all but overnight.
Coincidentally in early 2006 tensions arose between MY and SY.
After various attempts to contain those tensions MY and SY eventually separated in November 2006 and MY issued divorce proceedings in June 2007.
Over the next 7 years MY has sought to prove that SY’s purported financial meltdown was contrived in order to place assets beyond her reach.
During the proceedings MY has commissioned numerous financial investigation agencies whose reports have been placed before the Court and the thrust of these has been to bear out her belief that high value assets still remained under the effective ownership and control of SY.
SY has produced very little evidence in support of his claim to have been without assets and income; indeed he has frequently failed to comply fully or at all with the Court’s disclosure requirements.
Since the purported financial meltdown SY has continued to enjoy a very high standard of living solely by, he claims, the generosity of wealthy and prominent friends.
In contrast MY has found and continues to find it very difficult to maintain much more than a basic standard of living for herself and the daughters of the failed marriage.
In April 2010 SY went into Bankruptcy on the petition of HMRC for unpaid taxes of £1.7M and throughout the Bankruptcy proceedings has continued to maintain he has no assets or income.
Trustees, two Grant Thornton partners, were appointed to the Bankruptcy in June 2010 at the behest of HMRC and all other persons who had then claimed to be creditors with the exception of MY.
The full extent of whatever enquiries and pursuits they have since undertaken is not known.
What is known is that after well over 4 years the Trustees have recovered nothing whatsoever.
In November 2013 the Court awarded MY £20M calculated as half the net assets deemed to comprise SY’s worth together with £5M towards the massive legal and other costs she had incurred and £1.5M for arrears of maintenance.
The Judge considered that SY’s gross assets had a value of £45M and of the claims totalling some £28M in the Bankruptcy, most being by former connections of SY, only two, HMRC and a Bank, for £5M were admissible.
MY filed a Proof of Debt and in February 2014 requested the Trustees agree to being replaced.
The Trustees have ever since been adamant in resisting MY’s request questioning her motives and claiming a mandate for continuing to remain in office owing to the wishes of all other creditors on whose claims they refuse to adjudicate.
The Trustees have given no firm indications of their expectations as to possible future asset realisations but the supposition is that they are not confident of being able to achieve any.
MY and those assisting her are very much of the opinion that, with the diligent exerecise of the powers available to Trustees in Bankruptcy assets could have been and should yet be capable of being realised.
The objective of MY is simply to recover her proper entitlements and that objective is or ought to be fully coincident with the wishes of each and every other creditor of the Bankruptcy whose claim is properly admissible.
If the Trustees are indeed not confident their past and continuing endeavours will yield recoveries for the benefit of MY and other true creditors whatever other reason they may have for being so set on remaining in office continues to be a mystery.
MY’s experiences so far in her determined attempts to recover that which she feels, borne out to some extent by the Court, is properly due to her have features which, while having the most stressful impacts upon her personally, have a vastly more profound relevance not only to other spouses in similar situations but to questions of financial probity affecting us all.
Throughout SY’s business career he has conducted the majority of his dealings using highly complex structures involving nominees, trusts and corporate entities not only here but in many other overseas jurisdictions and in this sense he is emulated by just about every high net worth individual and business in this country.
Indeed, such a tendency is shared across the globe and it is facilitated not only by commercial and legal systems in “flag of convenience” jurisdictions designed for obfuscation but by sophisticated agencies and advisers with few scruples.
Not only are such structures commonplace but matters are further complicated when the true movers and owners, bolstered by advisers and other associates conspire to place constructions upon dealings obviously at odds with reality as to appear incredible.
These, however are more often than not simply indefeasible owing to our legal systems having to afford so many checks and balances as ironically to facilitate financial immorality.
Although the answers offered by those whose motivations are suspect might be predictably plausible it is high time questions are asked as regards the true dominant reasons for the creation of artificial and secretive structures both at home and in tiny states with curiously disproportionate financial activity.
Despite protestations that the principal reason for need of such secrecy is to protect assets and business activities from predation or unwarranted interference might it not be found that this is vastly outweighed by desires to evade proper obligations such as taxation and, as is MY’s experience and belief, to persons in positions such as hers. As also hardly needs stating, such secretive structures are also used by persons engaged in criminal activities.
The probability that the real reasons for people and businesses choosing to operate and own assets by using complex and indefinable overlaid structures is at least amoral and at worst plain immoral seems very high and one might ask, if so, how is it permitted to continue and what can be done to stop it?
A likely answer to the first question seems to be twofold.
Firstly it may be the tendency is so deep-rooted with an establishment tacit, self-convinced or self-serving acceptance. Examples bearing this out can easily be found and one that easily springs to mind is the Maxwell history.
Secondly it may be, quite simply, that the perpetrators are so much more clever and motivated than those who so vainly try to oppose them. Here we only have to cite the woefully poor results reported, even with lame excuses, by agencies such as HMRC and SOCA to see not only how successfully they are outflanked but the sheer scale of the losses.
An answer to the second question would also be many-layered but a good start might be for our law-makers and opinion-formers as well as those entrusted with the administration of the law to indulge in some self-examination in order to discover whether their grasp of commercial reality is adequate to their roles.
MY’s experience is that she has so far been failed in just about every sense by the system as it stands and by large numbers of those on whose expertise and diligence she has been forced to rely.
Despite the tremendous stress MY has been under for so many years her efforts to achieve a full vindication of her beliefs and proper restitution of all to which she is entitled has continued and will continue to be exerted to the maximum no matter how much antipathy and negativity she may face.