One of the advantages of the English legal system is that even the most convincing lies tend to be exposed under rigorous forensic examination in the witness box. In one case that proved the point, a businessman’s dishonesty was laid bare and he received an 18-month jail term for his brazen violation of court orders.
The man was alleged to have defrauded a global technology company by holding himself out as the owner of large solar energy facilities in the Middle East and Asia. It was alleged that those facilities were entirely fictitious and that the primary purpose of the fraud was to obtain bulk discounts on goods. The company had valued its claim against the man at in the region of $17.5 million.
After launching proceedings against him, the company obtained a worldwide freezing order in respect of his assets and a further order enabling a search of his premises. On the very day of the search, however, the court found that he had taken steps to move substantial sums out of his bank and Paypal accounts.
An engagement ring that was covered by the freezing order had been removed from the premises and the man had also sought to conceal his beneficial ownership of a company that he had earlier transferred into his girlfriend’s name. No doubt priding himself as someone who could talk himself out a tight corner, his attempts at hiding the truth had nevertheless been revealed under forensic examination.
In finding him in serious contempt, the court noted that he had decided to flout the orders on the very day that they were served upon him. He had shown no remorse and only a substantial sentence of immediate imprisonment would suffice. The court emphasised that it had reached no conclusions in respect of the alleged underlying fraud and that issues in relation to that remained to be tried.