A property dealer said to be worth £400 million has been handed a six-month jail term after a High Court judge ruled that he disobeyed orders to provide financial details to his estranged wife and was in contempt of court.
Mr Justice Moor said Scot Young, 51, had been in "flagrant" contempt during a long-running High Court cash fight with Michelle Young, 48. The judge described one explanation Mr Young had given for not complying with orders as "absurd" and said another response was "next to useless".
The hearing at the High Court in London was the latest stage in a legal fight stretching back several years.
High Court judges have heard that the Youngs, who both live in London and have two daughters, separated in 2006. In 2009, a judge ordered Mr Young to pay Mrs Young £27,500 a month maintenance. Mr Young - who has been described at earlier court hearings as a "property tycoon" - says he is bankrupt and cannot pay. However, Mrs Young says Mr Young has "secreted enormous assets".
Mr Young said he was "shocked" by the sentence. As he was led away in handcuffs and carrying a Louis Vuitton overnight bag, he said: "This is a sad day for British justice." Mrs Young disagreed and said: "What other choice do we have when someone is not complying with court orders, who is in contempt of court ... who is trying to leave me and my children destitute?" Mr Young's girlfriend, 29-year-old model Noelle Reno, added: "It's not a great day, is it? I didn't expect six months."
Lawyers representing Mrs Young had applied for Mr Young to be committed to prison for contempt of court. They told the judge that Mr Young had given the High Court the "runaround" after being ordered to provide details of his finances.
Mr Young, who represented himself at the court hearing, said Mrs Young was trying to commit him to prison out of "malice". He said he had "done everything in my power" and asked Mr Justice Moor to give him more time to answer financial questions posed by Mrs Young. The judge ruled in favour of Mrs Young.
The judge said Mr Young was in contempt. "He has not complied," said Mr Justice Moor. "There has been a flagrant and deliberate contempt over a very long period of time." And he said neither a fine nor a suspended sentence would be a sufficient penalty.
Mr Justice Moor said the pair's competing claims would still have to be argued at a trial - due to take place later this year. "The husband says, in effect, he is penniless and bankrupt," said the judge. "The wife contends that he is very wealthy. A man worth up to £400 million. She says he has hidden his entire resources to avoid his obligations to her and the children." Mr Justice Moor said Mr Young had been ordered to pay £27,500 a month maintenance in 2009. He had paid nothing and arrears had risen to "close to £1 million". The judge said it was "vitally important" that Mr Young provided "full and frank disclosure" of evidence to support claims that he had no money.
Mrs Young added, after the hearing: "It has been a very long, rough ride. I hope I can make a stand for other families who have been left in such dire circumstances after long marriages. We were married 12 years. We were together for 18 years ... Why should I just walk away? This money was made during our time together."