Ex-West Bromwich FD ordered to pay out in bitter divorce case

by Accountancy Age Staff

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05 Nov 2010

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A "BARE-FACED LIAR" who tried to hide his true wealth from his ex-wife in a bid to cut down on her divorce payout will pay a heavy price after an Appeal Court ruling.

Simon Charles Kingdon, one time finance director of West Bromwich Building Society, failed to tell his ex-wife, Helen, about a share-holding from which he eventually made £1.2m.

And, when she discovered the truth years after their divorce, she went back to court and, in an extremely rare move, a judge ordered Mr Kingdon to pay her an extra £481,000.

At London's Appeal Court, Mr Kingdon's lawyers argued his once glittering career now lies in tatters due to the sub-prime mortgage crisis and, from once earning £350,000-a-year and millions from his share options, he is now having trouble finding work.

But judge Lord Justice Wilson condemned him for the "bare-faced lies" he told the mother of his three children, to whom he was married for 23 years, and said he would have to pay up the £481,000 - plus his ex-wife's legal costs.

The couple used to live at £725,000-valued Field House Farm, in Rock Cross, near Kidderminster, but the marriage broke down in 2003 and bitter dispute over who received what ensued.

After his career with the West Bromwich in the 1990s, Mr Kingdon, 53, moved on to become finance director of Kensington Group, where he earned £350,000-a-year and, in 2003/2004, made £1.7m from exercising share options in the company.

He agreed to a "clean break" divorce settlement in 2005, under which his ex-wife, 52, got £200,000 and half of the couple's capital assets.

By then he was finance director of Money Partners Holdings Ltd (MPH) and what he failed to tell his ex-wife was that he had 200,000 shares in the company, almost half of which he sold in 2006, making a personal gain of over £1.2m.

Lord Justice Wilson said that, when Mrs Kingdon made inquiries, her ex-husband "compounded his deliberate non-disclosure in 2004/2005 with further bare-faced lies that his shares had never had value".

"The compound dishonesty is, in my experience, an unusual feature", added the judge, who was sitting with Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justice Toulson.

After the truth about the shares deal finally emerged, his ex-wife went back to court and was awarded the extra £481,000 by a judge in March this year.

Judge Cardinal said in his ruling: "The failure to disclose the shares was a deliberate act by the husband. He chose not to tell his wife about his shares and seized upon what I regard as a thin and lame excuse not to do so."

Mr Kingdon's legal team, headed by Valentine Le Grice QC, argued in the Appeal Court that he had not been given enough credit for the £200,000 he agreed to pay in 2005 and large sums he paid towards his children's private school fees and university education.

The QC added that Mr Kingdon was made redundant by MPH in the wake of the sub-prime mortgage crisis and has had difficulty finding work since.

His remaining shares in MPH were rendered worthless - all the shares in the company were sold to Goldman Sachs for just £2 in January 2008 - and the market in which Mr Kingdon specialised is now "pretty much non-existent", the court heard.

Mr Grice also argued that Mrs Kingdon, who still lives in the barn conversion at Field House Farm, had "wanted finality" at the time of the 2005 divorce deal and that was what she got.

However, dismissing Mr Kingdon's appeal, Lord Justice Wilson said he had been guilty of "material non-disclosure" of his assets during the divorce and the £1.2m he made from selling his MPH shares had been rightly subjected to the "sharing principle".

Kingdon is fighting to have an appeal heard on the decision, according to reports.




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