Millionaire husband could face jail for failing to commit to divorce settlement

Published: 17th July 2015

Michael Prest, a multi-millionaire oil tycoon may be facing prison for up to 4 weeks due to unpaid maintenance of more than £360,000, as well as the failure to pay the awarded sum from the divorce settlement to his ex-wife, Yasmin Prest. This was after the High Court instructed the Court of Appeal to uphold the decision.

Due to Mr Prest having net assets of £37.5m, he was expected to make a payment of £17.5m as well as other payments to his ex-wife and their four children. Due to his unyielding refusal, the High Court issued a suspended jail sentence.

After failing to pay his ex-wife, Yasmin Prest, the £17.5m that she was awarded during their divorce, she asked the High Court to send her ex-husband to prison. However Mr Justice Moylan was positive that Prest would pay the sum and had simply refused or neglected to do so.

In October 2014 Prest was due to be jailed for four weeks, before he launched an appeal in court, suggesting there were still ‘unresolved questions’ that were raised from Mr Justice Moylan’s judgements from previous proceedings. However the court made a statement, in which ‘Mr Prest had until 28 September 2015 to pay £360,200’

This was then followed by Prest’s solicitor stating that Mr Prest had always maintained a high standard of life for his ex-wife and their children and had simply failed to make the payment in the mandatory form. This was spoken after Mr Prest’s absence from a hearing, due to being on holiday with his children.

An examination of the company’s assets had taken place, to confirm which were owned by the company or its shareholders, in order to determine what would be accounted for as Prest’s personal property. This lead to Prest being ordered to transfer any property that was in his name and that he controlled, to his ex-wife.

However, the High Court judge’s conclusion was not final, as the Court of Appeal presented the notion that a company’s assets were owned by the company and not its shareholders. This confirmed there would be no lifting of the corporate veil but any properties that still retained the ownership of Mr Prest were to be handed to his ex-wife.

The total value of UK property in 2011 that was held by Petrodel Resources Limited was £11.5m; these values since then have increased greatly in line with the property market in Central London. As the former matrimonial home which was privately valued at between £7 and £9m, it is considered that Ms Prest, will have now received close to the original award sum of £17.5m. The maintenance provisions that were produced from the award were set to reduce as the properties were transferred or sold to Yasmin Prest.

If you are experiencing issues relating to finances in divorce, or you are thinking about separation then K J Smith Solicitors are here to help. Our team of family law specialists have many years of experience in dealing with all issues relating to finance and divorce, so we work with you to deliver positive solutions for you and your family.

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