Posted by Patrick Hart, Partner
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Millionaire warned he could face jail if he doesn’t pay his ex-wife maintenance
A businessman has been warned he will go to prison unless he complies with the terms of an order, which requires him to pay his ex-wife hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The Court of Appeal ruling is the latest stage in the long-running divorce dispute between the oil tycoon Michael Prest and his former wife Yasmin.
The pair, who were married for 18 years and have four children, had separated in 2008.
Mrs Prest had successfully taken the case to the High Court last summer, complaining that her ex-husband had failed to pay £360,000 in maintenance.
Her arguments were accepted by the court, with the Judge, Mr Justice Moylan, ruling that Mr Prest had the means to pay but had refused to do so. As a result, the businessman was handed a four week suspended jail sentence for Contempt of Court.
Mr Prest had lodged an appeal against the sentence, arguing that the ruling had been based on inadmissible material. His legal team had also made the case that a four week term was excessive in the circumstances.
Despite this, the Court of Appeal upheld the order – made in July last year. Lord Justice McFarlane concluded that the evidence which had formed the basis of the original ruling had been properly analysed and that in fact the punishment was “unremarkable” given the sums of money involved.
Mr Prest, a Nigerian national, now has until September 28th to pay his ex-wife the disputed sum or a warrant will be issued for his arrest.
However, the long-running legal dispute may yet continue. Mr Prest could now choose to appeal again, this time to the Supreme Court. If he does, the suspended sentence would once again be frozen until legal proceedings are concluded.
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