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(Family Division, Ryder J, 3 September 2012)
The husband was found guilty of Fraud Act offences in respect of investment policies held with Friends Provident Life and Pensions Ltd. He was sentenced to 3 years' imprisonment and a confiscation order was made against him to the value of £4,812,245 which was to be paid directly to Friends Provident.
The husband and wife were married for 16 years and had two children. During the criminal investigation the wife petitioned for divorce and since then she had remained living in the matrimonial home. In financial proceedings the wife sought a 50% interest in three properties including the matrimonial home claiming the properties were untainted by the husband's criminal activities. She also sought all the assets held in her name, a lump sum payment to discharge the mortgage over the matrimonial home and she would relinquish to the Crown or transfer to the husband her interest in any other jointly held property. The Crown Prosecution Service, intervening, resisted the wife's claim.
There was nothing on the evidence to suggest that at the time of the purchase of all three properties the parties intended anything other than to hold the properties for their joint legal and beneficial interest. As the wife was not made subject to the confiscation proceedings she could not be deprived of her interest as set out in Gibson v Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office. That was the position in relation to the two English properties. However, the French property had been refurbished with tainted contributions and, therefore, the wife was only entitled a 50% share of the untainted equity in the property which amounted to £45,285.50.
The wife was entitled to remain in the matrimonial home as it would enable her to run a bed and breakfast business and generate an income. It also provided for the welfare of the children, particularly the son, who had special health needs.
There were sufficient assets to provide for the transfer and lump sum payment to be made to the wife out of the untainted assets held by the husband. That was a just and equitable result which provided an appropriate balance between the interests of the Crown, the husband and wife.
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