Scot Young helped hide his £500million fortune from his wife ‘in a game of hide and concealment’ aided by a Panama-based law firm, leaked documents revealed today.
The British tycoon used Mossack Fonseca and other offshore businesses to stash his assets in Russia, the British Virgin Islands and Monaco, it has emerged.
Mr Young, who died after plunging onto railings below his £3million London penthouse in December 2014, is among a number of super-rich husbands named in leaked documents today.
Russia’s ‘fertilizer king’ Dmitri Rybolovlev and aviation tycoon Clive Joy, 55, also allegedly used Mossack Fonseca to shield assets from their soon-to-be ex-wives.
Leaked emails also reveal how Mossack Fonseca helped predominantly male clients find the ‘silver bullet’ to keep their cash, homes, yachts and art collections out of the hands of their partners.
Revealed: Property Tycoon Scot Young, pictured shortly before his death in 2014 with girlfriend Noelle Reno, used a Panama-based law firm to hide cash and assets from ex-wife Michelle, right outside the High Court during their long divorce battle
Conduit: Mossack Fonseca’s headquarters in Panama, where they helped mainly husbands hide assets from their wives, often before the divorce started
Evidence: This leaked email reveals how Mossack Fonseca staff joked about helping a Dutch client hide assets from his wife ahead of a divorce
Many of the husbands were secretly plotting with the law firm before their wives knew of any divorce proceedings.
Scot Young’s ex-wife Michelle has spent huge sums trying to trace his money after she won £25million at the High Court but never received a penny in a six-year divorce battle.
Young was even jailed for refusing to reveal how much money he was worth and a judge refused to believe he was penniless after a disastrous property deal in Moscow.
TYCOON EARNED £2BN AND LOST IT IN MYSTERIOUS MOSCOW DEAL
Scot Young, once one of Britain’s wealthiest property developers, claimed he was penniless after a large Moscow real estate deal collapsed.
He had mysteriously risen to huge success from an underprivileged youth on a tenement block in a run-down part of Dundee.
He left school with few qualifications but rode off the back of the property boom of the late 1980s and was given a hand on the property ladder by ex-wife Michelle Young’s father after they met in 1988.
His wife said he was always ‘secretive’ about the deals he was doing and there were claims he was linked to players in the Russian underworld.
Mr Young then apparently lost his immense wealth in a huge property development project in Russia called Project Moscow.
Boris Berezovsky, who died in mysterious circumstances last year, was known to be an investor in the scheme. He also died penniless.
In one hearing during their marathon divorce battle her legal team compared his story with the plot of the 1980s comedy movie Brewster’s Millions, in which a failing baseball player is told he will inherit 300 million dollars if he can spend 30 million of it in 30 days and have nothing to show for it.
Despite huge debts, his life was funded by some of his creditors, to whom he owed millions.
But his wife Michelle maintains that he had money stashed away offshore – and spent huge sums herself using investigators to track his fortune down.
He fell to his death in December 2014, with some blaming a break-up with his girlfriend Noelle and others his financial problems.
Scot Young’s American girlfriend Noelle Reno, a reality star and presenter, said his loss of wealth ‘killed him’.
However when they appeared together on the Ladies of London TV show her rented a £8,000-a-month flat with Miss Reno and had bought her a six-carat diamond engagement ring, despite claiming to be broke.
Today as his links to Mossack Fonseca were fully revealed, Ms Young, who set up a support group for women like her called the ‘First Wives Club’, said that Scot’s tangled web of offshore businesses was ‘like a baby Enron there are so many assets’.
She said that for women trying to find a husband’s hidden cash is a ‘blood sport’, adding: ‘Unless you’ve got the funds, you’re dead and buried’.
Martin Kenney, an asset recovery specialist working in offshore havens told The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ): ‘These offshore companies and foundations are instruments in a game of hide and concealment.’
Leaked emails reveal how Mossack Fonseca staff joked about helping a Dutch man hide cash from his wife before he started divorce proceedings.
The note, which contains a smiley emoji, says the client needed to ‘protect’ his assets ‘against the unpleasant results of a divorce (on the horizon!)’
One husband in Thailand needed a ‘silver bullet’ to stop his wife getting to his money, another email reveals.
Another client in Ecuador was offered a series of shell companies ‘to transfer assets before the divorce’, it was said.
Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev spent eight years battling his ex-wife Elena before they settled on a deal that could have been worth up £2.9billion.
Their very public and bitter feud brought to light accusations of his infidelity at yacht parties and attempts to ‘hide’ assets – including Greek islands and New York properties – out of her reach.
According to the ICIJ Mossack Fonseca incorporated his company Xitrans Finance Ltd in the British Virgin Islands.
Despite only being a post box, its assets have been described as a ‘mini Louvre’ because it owned owned paintings by Picasso, Van Gogh and Monet as well as large amounts of Louis XVI style furniture.
Leaked emails allegedly reveal that in 2009, as their marriage disintegrated, the company began to move the art and furniture away from their home in Switzerland to London and Singapore to prevent Elena getting them.
Scot Young and Michelle pictured on their wedding day at Chelsea Registry Office, London, in March 1995 – years later they would be involved in one of Britain’s most bitter divorce cases
Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev (left) and his ex-wife Elena (right) whose divorce proceedings were dubbed the costliest break-up of all time, said to be worth up to £2.9bn
An aviation tycoon embroiled with his wife in a multi-million pound divorce also used Mossack Fonseca.
Clive and Nichola Joy were even driven to fight over a £470,000 vintage Bentley Tourer during the expensive High Court battle.
Clive Joy, 55, whose fortune was once put at £69million, has been ‘pleading poverty’ in defending a massive financial claim by the mother of his three children.
But Mrs Joy, 47, says he is claiming to be ‘penniless’ as ‘part of a dishonest strategy’ to reduce any financial award she may receive by hiding his fortune in an offshore trust.
Money worries: Clive Joy was once worth £69million but is now claiming to have 80,000 euros, or £65,000, left in the bank – and facing huge legal costs
The couple met in April 2001 and married five years later. Mrs Joy petitioned for divorce in July 2011, the court heard. A decree nisi was pronounced in June last year, but the divorce has yet to be finalised while the couple run up enormous legal bills squabbling over the partition of their assets.
Zimbabwe-born Mr Joy attended university in England and has lived with his family for spells in the Caribbean and in France.
He made his fortune through a phenomenally successful aircraft leasing firm. Mr Pointer said that Mr Joy moved the money made from this venture into a trust in 2002.
His wife’s lawyers say he transferred
about £69million to the British Virgin Islands-based trust. But Mr
Pointer said the family’s living expenses were funded by drawing cash
from a bank loan, secured against the trust.
As party of their legal wrangle her lawyers sent Mossack Fonseca a court order to freeze his wealth until the courts had agreed a settlement.
One of Mossack Fonseca’s lawyers said in an email: ‘The consequences for breach of a Freezing Injunction are serious, and we as Registered Agent, must act responsibly’.
The judge, Sir Peter Singer, said that Mr Joy’s case was ‘a rotten edifice founded on concealment and misrepresentation and therefore a sham, a charade, bogus, spurious and contrived’.
Valuable: The Joys even fought over this model of Bentley – a 1928 Tourer (not actual car)
Today Mrs Joy said in an email to the ICIJ: ‘The law has to change, these offshore trusts make a mockery of justice’.
Mossack Fonseca said in a statement: ‘We are not involved in managing our clients’ companies.
‘Excluding the professional fees we earn, we do not take possession or custody of clients’ money, or have anything to do with any of the direct financial aspects related to operating their businesses’.
The firm added: ‘We regret any misuse of companies that we incorporate or the services we provide and take steps wherever possible to uncover and stop such use’.