The Court of Appeal has narrowly upheld an asset freezing injunction issued against the former chief executive officer (CEO) of a Stock Exchange-listed company who vehemently denies involvement in alleged $135 million frauds.
The Isle of Man-based company, whose centre of operations was in Kazakhstan where it had a number of subsidiaries, claimed that the former CEO, together with other senior ex-employees, were ‘fraudsters and thieves’ who had ‘stolen’ a vast sum of money from the group.
The CEO denied that there had been any such frauds; however, the company had succeeded in obtaining an asset freezing order against him. In challenging that order, the CEO argued, amongst other things, that the claim against him was subject to a limitation period under Kazakh law and should be barred from proceeding.
The Court acknowledged that it was ‘left uneasy’ by the whole course of the litigation and that there was a real possibility that the CEO’s limitation defence would prevail when the case came to trial. However, in dismissing his appeal, the Court found that the judge who made the order had not misdirected himself and that his conclusion on the evidence could not be viewed as ‘obviously wrong’.
The CEO’s arguments that the company had been guilty of material non-disclosure in obtaining the injunction were also rejected. The judge had been entitled to conclude that any failure to disclose relevant material had been unintentional and, ultimately, had not affected the outcome.