Billionaire property developer claims that he was never married to his ‘wife’ to protect his fortune

Published: 14th October 2017

In a hearing at the High Court, a property developer based in London has made the claim that his ‘wife’ of 14 years is not entitled to his money because they were never actually married in the eyes of the law.

Mr Asif Aziz, living in London but originally from Malawi, is the founder and CEO of Criterion Capital, a UK-based property group. The firm owns a large proportion of West End properties, such as 1 Piccadilly, The London Trocadero, 1 Leicester Square and 1 Jermyn Street, St James’s.

The Aziz Marriage

The property developer, Asif Aziz, has suggested that a fake certificate was used to acquire a passport for their adopted child. He believes that the marriage was based on this fake certificate, and so they were never truly married. Following this, Mr Aziz has requested that their divorce, which was processed in November 2016, should be reversed because the marriage was not legal.

Representatives of Mr Aziz told the court that the former ‘wife’ made claims of a Muslim marriage ceremony that she said was held in 2002 in Malawi. Mr Aziz rejects her claims and has said that a ‘certificate of convenience’ was obtained to ensure they could get a UK passport for their informally adopted child.

A Claim to the Fortune

Mr Justice Moor was told that Mrs Aziz was seeking a ‘fair' share out of total resources of £1.1 billion, and that Mr Aziz had previously tried to suggest that he had ‘no capital’ and that he was a ‘man of straw’.

Mrs Aziz and her representatives believe that her former ‘husband’ is fixated on ensuring that Mrs Aziz does not receive ‘any entitlement’. Her representatives commented, saying: ‘Mrs Aziz is entitled to – and does – rely on the presumption of marriage and the facts that the parties presented to the world for the totality of the period between 2002 and their separation. It is for Mr Aziz credibly to explain... why he presented to the world for a period of two decades that he and Mrs Aziz were married.’

She also suggested that a decree nisi had been announced and ‘unopposed’, further saying: ‘The court need look no further than Mr Aziz's obvious determination to achieve an overwhelming victory over Mrs Aziz at any cost.’

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