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Home > Judgments > 2015 archive

MA v SK [2015] EWHC 887 (Fam)

Judgment in proceedings following divorce in which the wife applied for orders regarding a property in London. A company (established and part-owned by the husband) applied against the wife for possession of that property. The judge transferred the property to the wife and dismissed the company’s application for possession.

The parties divorced in 1999 after a marriage (at the Central London Mosque under Sharia law) lasting 20 years. They remarried in 2002 and separated in 2013.

The court was concerned with four claims, three by the applicant wife ("W") against the respondent husband ("H") and one by a company ("S"), which H had helped to establish and in which he held shares, against W.  W claimed:

  1. A declaration under the Married Women's Property Act 1882 ("MWPA") as to the ownership of a property in north west London ("the property");
  2. Orders under Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996 in relation to the property; and
  3. Financial remedies under Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 after an overseas divorce.

S made a claim for possession of the property against W.

H was a 90 year old Saudi Arabian citizen and national, who was found to be extremely wealthy and working in property development. W, aged 63, was born in the Lebanon and is a national of both the Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.  She lived at the property on an investor's visa.  The judge was of the view that W could obtain permanent residency in 5 years.  There were also properties in Paris and Cannes.

Mr Justice Moor found:

(a) W had established a domicile of choice in this jurisdiction as required for the Part III claim;

(b) The parties made an agreement in around 2000 to 2001 under which H gave W assurances that she would be looked after properly;

(c) The various transfers of property had been performed for tax purposes rather than to benefit W;

(d) H is the beneficial owner of the property and S merely acted as his nominee.  The property is a matrimonial home, albeit not the main matrimonial home;

(e) W is the legal owner of the properties in Paris and Cannes and is thus entitled to the proceeds of a sale of the Cannes property as she was of the Paris flat; 

(f) He did not accept the evidence of H and his financial director and found H's net wealth to be in the region of £287.5 million;

(g) W had not removed significant sums from the K Group; and

(h) W's needs were valued at £10 million.

Accordingly, the judge ordered: a transfer of the property to her utilising the Prest mechanism and a transfer of the shareholding in S; a transfer of H's beneficial interest in the Cannes property to W; a clean break in life and death. He made no order on the MWPA and Part IV proceedings and dismissed S's claim for possession.

Mr Justice Moor said that his order had taken into account the costs of the proceedings, but he would hear argument about the costs of Barclays Bank (who had been directed to produce documentation on their involvement with the property). The judge stated his provisional view that H should be ordered to pay those costs.  

Summary by Sara Hunton, barrister, Field Court Chambers
________________________________

IMPORTANT NOTICE
This judgment was delivered in private. The judge has given leave for this version of the judgment to be published on condition that (irrespective of what is said in the judgment) in any published version of the judgment, the anonymity of the parties, their children and members of their families must be strictly preserved. All persons, including representatives of the media, must ensure that this condition is strictly complied with.  Failure to do so will be a contempt of court.

Case No: FD14P00733;
FD14F00249;
FD14F00365
Neutral Citation Number: [2015] EWHC 887 (Fam)

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 13th March 2015

Before :

Mr Justice Moor

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Between :

MA  Applicant
- and - 
SK Respondent

S Investments  NV Claimant
-and- 
MA Defendant
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Mr Martin Pointer QC, Mrs Rebecca Carew Pole and Miss Kyra Cornwall for the Applicant (instructed by Schillings)
Mr Tim Amos QC and Miss Laura Heaton for the Respondent (instructed by Stephenson Harwood LLP)
 
Hearing dates: 10th to 18th November 2014 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

JUDGMENT
MR JUSTICE MOOR:-


1. I have been hearing four separate claims, three by the Applicant, MA (hereafter "the Wife") against the Respondent, SK (hereafter "the Husband") and one by S Investments NV against the Applicant.  The claims are:-

(a) The Applicant's claim dated 17th March 2014 for a declaration pursuant to section 17 of the Married Women's Property Act 1882 relating to the ownership of various properties.  The only relevant property is now a property in Northwest London (hereafter "the London Property") The London Property the London Property as Sir Paul Coleridge, sitting as a deputy High Court Judge on 13th May 2014, stayed the application in relation to a number of overseas properties/the proceeds of sale of overseas properties.

(b) The Applicant's application dated 18th March 2014 for orders pursuant to Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996 in relation to the London Property. 

(c) The Applicant's application, initially dated 17th July 2014, for financial remedies following an overseas divorce, brought pursuant to Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984.

(d) The claim of S Investments NV against the Applicant for possession of the London Property.  

The relevant history
2. The Husband was born in 1925 in Saudi Arabia.  He is therefore aged ninety.  He is a Saudi Arabian citizen and national.  He is undoubtedly very firmly rooted in that country.  He lives in Jeddah in a home which is, on any view, a spectacular property whether valued at £16.7 million as he contends or £26.7 million, as the Wife contends.  I am told that around 40 staff are employed to maintain this palatial residence.  It was undoubtedly the main matrimonial home.

3. The Wife was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1951.  She is therefore aged 63.  Her parents came from Syria.  Her first language is Armenian.  She is a national of the Lebanon and also of Saudi Arabia.  She resides at the London Property.  She has a three year investor's visa to remain in this country.  I am satisfied that, at the end of the three year period, she will be able to renew the visa.  After five years, she can obtain permanent residency. 

4. The Husband was married twice before he met the Wife.  His first marriage took place in 1953 and produced a son, MS, now aged 59.  His second marriage took place in 1959 and produced two daughters, AK (now aged 53) and LK (now aged 50) as well as a son, FK (aged 45).  Indeed, in total he has had five wives, although numbers four and five post-date his marriage to the Wife in this case and can only have been very short marriages on any view. 

5. In 1969, the Wife moved from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia to work as an air hostess.  The parties met in 1975 and commenced a relationship.  I am satisfied that, by that time, the Husband was already immensely successful and wealthy.  He is a self-made man.  His main business, the K Group, is primarily a property development business in Saudi Arabia. 

6. I have had some difficulty in establishing exactly when the Husband purchased the constituent parts of what is now the London Property.  The evidence is all over the place.  There seems little doubt that he purchased three flats separately, namely Flats A, B and C.  It may be that he acquired Flat A on 18th November 1969, although he also gives dates of June 1975 and January 1980.  Flat B is equally unclear, with dates of purchase given in August 1970, late 1970s and December 1984.  The same pattern appears with Flat C, where the dates given are March 1971, late 1970s and June 1980.  In any event, Flat B was registered in the name of AK Investments Ltd, whilst the other two were registered in the name of HM Ltd and then A Investments NV.  On 22nd October 1979, S Investments NVS Investments") was incorporated in Curacao in the Dutch Antilles.

7. The parties married in 1979.  Interestingly, they did so at the Central London Mosque.  The Wife said it was because she was living here at the time.  The marriage was pursuant to Sharia law but was recognised in Saudi Arabia. 

8. By mid 1980, Flat C was registered in the name of S Investments.  Bearer share certificates were issued for S Investments on 15th April 1981 and are now held by SGG (Curacao) Custodian Foundation.  In March 1988, the other two flats were also transferred to S Investments, although A Investments may, for a time, have owned S Investments.  The three flats were directly above and below each other on three separate floors.  The flat was made into one very large maisonette with an internal staircase in about 1985.  It has superb views over a London Park.  There are six bedrooms and two staff flats.  The Single Joint Expert, Justin Mason of Knight Frank, values it at £14,500,000.  This figure must have been a considerable disappointment to both parties, who had previously believed it was worth up to £22 million.
 
9. The parties had two children, both boys.  The elder, IK, was born in August 1981 in Cannes.  Tragically, he died in April 2010 in Jeddah.  I have no doubt that this tragedy has been a significant factor in the breakdown of the parties' marriage.  The younger, EK, was born in May 1985, at the Portland Hospital.  He is therefore now aged 29.  

10. In 1999, the parties divorced in Saudi Arabia.  The Husband performed a Talaq.  The Wife says it was due to a disagreement over IK but I have not investigated this.  She continued to live in Saudi Arabia.  She received financial support from the Husband although she said it stopped at some point.  During 2000, the Husband was staying in London for a number of months.  The reason (which is disputed) is irrelevant.  I find that the Wife came to see him in London.  There is a dispute as to why she came.  She says he contacted her sister and asked her to contact him.  He says that his Mother died whilst he was in London.  The Wife came to see him to offer her sympathies.  Both say that the other proposed remarriage.  The Wife says that the Husband promised to transfer to her five properties.  The first was the London Property.  The second was the Jeddah home. The third was a property in Cannes.  The fourth was a property in Paris.  The fifth is described in her pleadings as "a property in Beirut".  The Wife says that she feared conflict with the Husband's family from his other marriages and was not prepared to remarry without security.  The Husband denies the promise.  He argues that the Wife would be in a far stronger financial position by remarrying him.  He asks, rhetorically, why would he agree to give away all his homes for no good reason?  I will obviously have to return to this aspect. 

11. In any event, the parties agreed to reconcile.  They remarried in 2002 in Jeddah.  The remarriage does appear to have resulted in a power shift in the Husband's business interests.  Previously, his eldest son, MS appears to have been playing a very significant role in the management of the K Group.  Gradually, IK began to manage the Group, despite his tender age, although he had the assistance of professional employees such as Mr AH, amongst others.  The Husband's case is that IK along with another employee, WAS, subsequently mismanaged the business badly.  

12. It is the Wife's case that the Husband is worth some $1 billion overall.  She says that he has generated his fortune by buying and developing property and land in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  It does appear that he has made a speciality of acquiring land that is subject to rival claims and sorting out the dispute in his favour.  I can entirely understand that such investments may be spectacularly successful but they may equally founder hopelessly and, in some circumstances, lose their value entirely.

The Standard of Living
13. It is clear that the standard of living during the marriage was lavish and exceptional.  I have seen photographs of the London Property and the Jeddah home that clearly show the opulence involved.  In addition, the apartment in Paris had a gross value, when sold, of €15,750,000.  The Cannes villa is said to be worth around €17 million.  Both were acquired around 1983.  Mr Pointer QC for the Wife was able to show the Husband a schedule of projected expenditure for the year 2010 showing spending, after excluding loan repayments, of some £13 million.  Even the Husband's case is that his current spending is over £2 million pa. 
 
14. The Husband's case is that the money has, in effect, run out, due primarily to the difficulties his real estate business is facing in Saudi Arabia.  This is, of course, seriously in dispute.  I will have to make findings, doing the best I can.  The Wife says that the Husband's standard of living shows no reduction.  The Husband points to the very large mortgages on all the properties and the fact that he has had to sell two properties in the last few years.  

Alleged transfers to the Wife
15. Another important issue on which I will have to make findings is whether or not the Husband activated the alleged promise to transfer the properties to the Wife.  The Husband's case is that he did nothing to effect any transfers until over three years later when he did make some transfers but these were solely for tax planning reasons.  He says he always ensured that the ultimate beneficial interests in the properties remained with him.  
 
16. The Wife says that he made good on his promise by gradually transferring the properties to her.  The only document on which she can rely in the period from the remarriage until 2005 was a request dated 17th July 2002 from IK, as Managing Director, that the Wife be given unlimited power of attorney in relation to the Netherlands Antilles Companies. 

17. In May 2004, the Husband purchased a property in Beirut for $9,802,205.  He paid a deposit of $927,000 and the balance by instalments to 2010.  The Wife said in oral evidence that the property was purchased in her sole name but I have seen no document to support that. 

18. On 24th May 2005, the Jeddah property was transferred to the Wife.  The Husband says this was done, temporarily, as he was facing litigation with a bank and wanted to ensure any judgment could not be enforced against the property.  To make the transfer, he had to give the Wife a sum of SR 100 million, which she immediately paid back to him as the consideration.  Whilst I will have to determine the motivation for this and the other transactions, there is no doubt that the property was transferred back to the Husband in June 2011.  He says that this was because he had managed to resolve the litigation with the Bank satisfactorily in February 2011.   He does not say that he paid the Wife any consideration at that point.   

19. On 14th September 2005, there was a meeting at the London Property at which it was proposed that the Paris and Cannes properties be transferred to a limited liability company, the shares of which would be held by the Wife and/or the boys.  A French legal practice, Alerion, was instructed to advise.  The documents show that tax planning was a high priority so far as this was concerned.  These arrangements came to fruition in June 2006.  A company that became known as L Holdings SA was set up to hold the Cannes property.  The shares were transferred as to 99% to the Wife and 1% to IK, whose shareholding was transferred to EK after his death.   An identical arrangement was put in place for the Paris flat, utilising a company that became M Holdings SA.  Both companies were registered in Luxembourg.

20. The position so far as the London Property is concerned is far more opaque.  The Husband had undoubtedly given a personal guarantee to Barclays for the loan secured against the property on 15th October 2005.  It appears that the loan at that point was £8,662,500.  The Wife says this was necessary because he was going to transfer the shares in S Investments to her.  On 27th October 2005, Stephenson Harwood, the Husband's solicitors, sent an email to IK suggesting transferring the shares in S Investments to the Wife whilst protecting the Husband's rights of occupation. Indeed, it appears as though, the same month, the Husband was given a licence to occupy the property.  The document contains the signatures of the Husband and the Wife, plus their initials on each page.  There is a dispute as to whether or not the Wife was signing as a witness or on behalf of S Investments.   In June 2008, it was decided to appoint EK and WAS as directors of S Investments.  There seems little doubt that no Board Meeting actually took place but the "Minutes of a Board Meeting" achieving this objective were produced dated 21st June 2008.  Regrettably, there are two different versions of this document.  One has the Wife and IK signing as "owner/shareholders".  The other has the Husband and IK doing so, again purportedly as "owner/shareholders".  I will have to return to my findings as to this in due course. 
 
21. In April 2010, IK tragically died very suddenly.  The Wife says that the next day the Husband presented her with a number of documents to sign.  There is no doubt that she did sign a document less than three weeks later on 11th May 2010.  EK also signed.  The document relates to the two French properties and acknowledges "without pressure or aggression" that the two properties are in fact fully owned by the Husband, who is consequently the only beneficial owner.  It goes on to provide that they will transfer the shares to him if he so demands. 

22. On 29th April 2006, IK sent an email to the French legal practice advising on the French transfers.  It attaches two documents.  The email says that the first is an acknowledgment by the Wife, IK and EK of the true ownership of the properties.  It is unsigned but it states that, amongst other things, that the properties, including London and Jeddah are "fully owned by (the Husband)" and that they are "fully ready to register whatever he wants or transfer the company shares or bank accounts or cash money to his name or any name he selects without any objection or prejudice or referring to any legal action in KSA or abroad". 

23. In May 2011, the Husband transferred the Beirut property to a new company known as K Real Estate.  The Wife was given virtually all the shares in the new company but her sister, AA, and EK were given one share each.  The Beirut property was then sold for $15,500,000.  The Husband says this was done for tax reasons as it was beneficial for tax purposes to have the company owned by Lebanese Nationals at the time of sale.  He says they were his nominees.  There is no doubt that the proceeds of sale were paid to the Husband with the Wife's knowledge and consent.   She wrote a letter to that effect on 19th May 2011.

The breakdown of the marriage
24. The parties separated in August 2013.  The Wife left Saudi Arabia, initially travelling to the Lebanon and then to Turkey briefly before reaching London on 21st September.  She says that she did so with the intention of residing here permanently.  
 
25. On 4th October 2013, the Husband says an offer was received to purchase the London Property from a group called IM Holdings Corp in the sum of £19 million.  An intermediary was involved in this proposal.  The sale did not proceed.  On 24th October 2013, HSBC wrote to the Husband saying that, further to correspondence from the Husband and his son, MS, "you confirm you are the ultimate beneficial owner of the S Investments shares."  On 31st January 2014, EK was removed as a director of S Investments.  On 21st February 2014, a Custodian Agreement was entered into between H and SGG (Curacao) Custodian Foundation that the S Investments bearer share certificate was held on behalf of the Husband as beneficial owner.

26. On 11th December 2013, the Paris apartment was sold for €15,750,000.  The mortgage of €13,200,000 was redeemed.  The Wife, as the legal owner of the shares in Morrison Holdings, retained the net proceeds of €3,533,642.  There had been discussions about this in the run up to the sale.  At one point, it is clear that the Wife sought to retain €500,000 and pay the balance to the Husband.  This was agreed but she did not do so.  The Husband initially sought the return of this money but he eventually said she could keep it "as her divorce settlement."

27. On 6th March 2014, the Husband wrote to the Wife asking her to vacate the London Property.  The following day, his solicitors wrote to her demanding that she return the sale proceeds of the Paris property and transfer to him the Cannes property.  The same day, a letter was sent by S Investments to the Wife asking her to vacate by 21st March, only two weeks later.

The Wife's immigration status
28. The Wife had instructed Mr Tony Haque of Baker & McKenzie to deal with her immigration status in January 2014.  I have already noted that she had come to this country on 21st September 2013 on a visitor visa that had been issued to her on 21st February 2009 and was valid for ten years.  She left the country briefly on 22nd September 2013 before returning on 24th September.  She left again on 29th December 2013, returning on 2nd January 2014. 

29. Mr Haque advised her to apply for a PBS Tier 1 Investor visa.  To achieve this she has to have had £750,000 invested in the UK in one of certain qualifying investments and, overall, have at least £1 million here.  Moreover, the money must have been invested here for at least three months prior to the date of her application.  She had to make the application from overseas.  She therefore left the country on 21st March 2014 and stayed with her sister, AA, at her sister's address in Beirut in the Lebanon.  From there, she made her application to the British Embassy.  There has been much debate as to whether or not the application was accurate but I am quite satisfied that she filled it in on advice and that she was unable to say that her permanent address was the London Property as that would have been fatal to the application.

30. The application was approved on 4th April 2014 for an initial period of three years.  Provided she retains the investments here throughout the three year period, she can apply at the end of the three years to extend for a further two years, at the end of which she can apply for permanent leave to remain. After her application was approved, she returned to this country on 22nd April 2014.

The litigation
 31. Faced with the demand that she vacate the London Property by 21st March, the Wife applied to the court on 17th March 2014 for a declaration pursuant to section 17 of the MWPA that she is the sole beneficial owner of the shares in S Investments and the London Property  itself.  She also applied for similar declarations in relation to the French properties and the Jeddah home as well as for a declaration that, at the time of sale, she was the sole beneficial owner of the Paris flat and the Beirut property.  Slightly surprisingly, she sought a lump sum of $15,500,000.  She did say, in her supporting statement, that she had been required, over the years, to sign numerous documents by the Husband.  
 
32. The following day, 18th March 2014, the Wife applied pursuant to Part IV of the 1996 Family Law Act for an order requiring the Husband to permit her to occupy the London Property.  She said that the property had been the marital home since 1979.  She has subsequently made it clear that she intends to make London her permanent home.

33. The same day, Bodey J made a freezing injunction preventing any dealing with the London Property and an occupation order to prevent any steps being taken to evict the Wife.  The application was made without notice to the Husband but on very short notice to solicitors acting for S Investments.  On 27th March 2014, Theis J accepted undertakings from the directors of S Investments, including the Husband that they would take no steps to evict the wife and would take no steps to dispose of the property on an interim basis.  Whether the order should be continued substantively was adjourned for full hearing in May 2014.

34. On 1st May 2014, the Husband pronounced Talaq and brought proceedings before the Personal Status Court in Jeddah to certify the divorce.  The divorce certificate was issued the same day.  It is accepted that this is both binding on the parties and recognised by this court.  

35. The Managers of SGG Management in Curacao (JH and WB) filed a statement on 5th May 2014 stating that S Investments does not hold the London Property on trust for anyone.  They went on to say that they hold the bearer shares on behalf of the Husband and no-one else.

36. The Husband's first statement is dated 8th May 2014.  He stated that, by filing the statement, he should not be taken to have submitted to the jurisdiction of the English Courts.  He alleged that it was dishonest for the Wife to apply to these courts and accused her of bad faith and "flagrant forum shopping".  He did say that he had instructed two Estate Agents to market the London Property for sale in March 2013 for £21 million and had received an offer, via an intermediary, of £19 million.  He stated that he never intended to cease to be the ultimate beneficial owner of any of the properties.   A supporting statement from his private office manager, NEF, stated that the cost of servicing the mortgage on the London Property was some £309,000 pa with total expenses of £479,895 pa. 

37. The hearing of the application to continue the orders in relation to the London Property was heard by Sir Paul Coleridge, sitting as a deputy High Court Judge on 13th May 2014.  He continued the injunctions for a period of six months, namely 13th November, on the basis that the substantive claim would be determined within that period.  He told the Wife that she should actively start considering the arrangements to vacate the property at the conclusion of the six month period but it is right to note that this indication was subject to the outcome of her main claim.  He stayed the MWPA proceedings in so far as they related to the overseas properties.

38. The Husband filed his Defence on 9th July 2014.  He pleaded that there was no promise to transfer the properties to the Wife but, if there had been, it would have been unenforceable.  There was no consideration, no detrimental reliance and nothing in writing.  He added that the ownership vested in the companies and he was the beneficial owner of the shares in the companies.  

39. On 17th July 2014, the Wife applied pursuant to Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 for permission to bring an application for financial provision after an overseas divorce.  She asserted jurisdiction based on domicile and a beneficial interest in a dwelling house here which was at some point during the marriage a matrimonial home.  She was at the time unable to assert the third possible ground of jurisdiction, namely habitual residence throughout the period of one year ending with the date of the application for leave as she had only been here since the previous September.  Her statement in support stated that she intended to seek permanent leave to remain here.  She also said that she had no entitlement to financial relief in Saudi Arabia. 

40. The application was listed, in accordance with the rules, on a without notice basis before Sir Peter Singer, sitting as a deputy High Court Judge on 28th July 2014.  He gave the Wife permission to make the application.  The Husband duly applied on 27th August 2014 to set aside the permission and to strike out the section 17 proceedings for alleged failure to comply with directions. 

41. The Husband's applications came before Holman J, in mid September 2014.  He refused the application for strike out, noting that the alleged failures to comply amounted, at worst, to the Wife being a total of some three and a half days late in complying with various directions.  He listed the application to set aside the Part III permission in late September 2014.  He listed a final hearing of all applications on 10th November 2014. 

42. The application to set aside the Part III permission came before Mostyn J in late September 2014.  He refused the application and recorded that the court has the power to determine the Wife's claims under Part III, subject to any challenge to the statutory criteria by the Husband at the final hearing, and the MWPA claim, at least in so far as it related to the English property.  He ordered the Husband to pay the Wife's costs assessed at £20,400 by 14th October 2014.

43. The parties exchanged Forms E in October 2014.  The Wife's Form E is dated 16th October 2014.  She deposed to the Jeddah home being worth £26.7 million and the London Property £18.5 million but subject to a mortgage of £10.8 million.  The Cannes property was said to be worth €17 million but subject to a mortgage of €9,800,000.  She had £1,085,511 in bank accounts and investments of £1,004,736.  The latter two amounts constituted the remainder of the net proceeds of the Paris flat.  She had, by then, spent a considerable amount of money on EK's wedding, her expenses and legal fees.  She said there would be Capital Gains Tax of £1,669,307 on a sale of the Cannes property.  Overall, she said her net assets were £50,264,559 but this included the properties where the ownership is hotly in dispute.  She put her income needs at £566,045 pa and her capital needs at £19.8 million, which would enable her to repay the mortgages on the London Property and the Cannes property. 

44. The Husband's Form E is dated 27th October 2014.  It was sworn in Arabic and translated into English.  He put the value of the Jeddah home at £16.6 million but said it was very difficult to sell.  For the first time, he alleged that the Wife owed the K Group £31 million, which he alleged had been removed from the Group while IK was in control.  He placed the value of his personal belongings at £2,648,800.  He said that, according to the 2013 accounts, the total equity in the K Group was SR 575 million (or £95.9 million) but said that the true value was negative due to litigation about the land.  He valued the London Property at £20 million, subject to the loan of £10.3 million and the Cannes property at €16 million but subject to the mortgage of €9.7 million.  He referred to an investment portfolio with National Commercial Bank worth £945,000 but not realisable until 2022.  He estimated his total net worth at £32.5 million.  He said the gross income of the K Group was £1.5 million but after expenses and loan repayments it was negative to the tune of £1.8 million.  He put his expenses at £2,086,109 pa and his capital needs at £17.6 million (largely consisting of the value of the Jeddah property).  He said that the K Group's wealth had been destroyed by IK and that "decisions taken by the Wife and Mr WAS have destroyed what I built up".  
 
45. A supporting statement was put in from the Finance Director of the K Group, AH.  It was also in Arabic and was translated into English.  It stated that the land of the K Group was all subject to legal challenges from third parties that were likely to succeed.  He said that, as a result, land worth about £57 million in the accounts had, in fact, no realisable value.  He exhibited a report from a retired judge Sheikh Ibrahim Mohamed bin Ali al-Dribi which purported to give a summary of the litigation involving the various plots of land, indicating a very pessimistic view of the Group's chances of success.  I gave permission to the Husband to call AH.  No attempt was made to call Sheikh al-Dribi and I cannot therefore place any significant reliance on his statement.

46. There was frenetic activity in the last few days before the hearing.  Indeed, I had to determine no less than eight separate preliminary issues on the first morning of the trial.  One of these was to direct Barclays Bank to produce documentation in relation to their involvement with the London Property.  The documentation arrived on the Wednesday afternoon.  I will refer to the documents when I come to my findings of fact. 

47. One important factor was that the London Property was valued in a report dated 17th October 2014 by Mr Justin Mason of Knight Frank at only £14.5 million, considerably less than the parties had expected.  This meant that, after deduction of the costs of sale and the mortgage, the net equity was a very disappointing £3,265,000.  Mr Mason's report was challenged by Mr Tim Amos QC for the Husband on the basis that, given a number of difficulties, it was in fact over optimistic.  He did not, however, call any evidence to establish the contention.  I was impressed by Mr Mason's evidence.  He told me that the property was somewhat tired and dated.  I accept his evidence as to the valuation.  I do accept that the property may be quite difficult to sell. 

48. Whilst Mr Martin Pointer QC, for the Wife, opened the case, I pointed out the inherent sterility of the arguments as to the Wife's domicile now that there was no doubt that she had been firmly based in this jurisdiction for more than a year.  Mr Pointer applied for permission to issue a second Part III application relying on habitual residence.  Mr Amos, for the Husband, opposed the application but, having considered it carefully, I granted the Wife permission to do so on 13th November 2014.


The respective open positions 
49. The Wife's case is that she has established jurisdiction pursuant to Part III of the 1984 Act and should therefore be granted financial provision on the basis of her needs, generously assessed.  She puts these at:-

(a) Transfer of the London Property   £3,597,868
(b) Transfer of Cannes                     £5,226,563
(c) Lump sum                               £30,000,000
(d) Own cash                                 £1,689,613
(e) Transfer of TB (a company)        £1,000,000
(f) Transfer of EI Holdings               £2,511,100

    Total                                       £44,025,144

50. The Husband's case is equally straightforward.  He submits that this court has no jurisdiction to make an order under Part III as the Wife is not domiciled here, the basis on which she asserted her claim.  He says that, even if I am against him in that regard, the application is without merit, taking into account the factors in section 16 of the 1984 Act.  He argues that I should dismiss it as being nothing more than blatant forum shopping.  In any event, he says the Husband has made fair provision for the Wife already by allowing her to retain the proceeds of sale of the Paris flat.  Very much as a fall back position, he says that, if I am against him and consider the court should make a further award, it should come from the equity in Cannes.  He asks me to order a sale of the London Property and to make a possession order against the Wife. 

The Law 
51. Numerous legal matters have been argued before me.  Indeed, I have approximately four binders full of authorities, albeit that one related to the various preliminary issues I had to decide on the first day of the trial.
 
52. I have come to the clear conclusion that I should consider first the Wife's application pursuant to Part III of the 1984 Act.  I will, however, have to consider the legal and beneficial ownership of the London Property and, possibly, the Cannes property. 

53. So far as the 1984 Act is concerned, jurisdiction is dependent on the Wife establishing jurisdiction pursuant to one or more of the grounds in section 15, namely domicile, habitual residence throughout the period of one year ending with the date of the application for leave or a beneficial interest in possession in a dwelling house here that was, at some time during the marriage, a matrimonial home. 

54. If I am so satisfied, I must consider whether or not England and Wales is an appropriate venue for the application. If I am not so satisfied, I must dismiss the application.  I must have particular regard to the matters set out in section 16(2).  If I am so satisfied, section 17 empowers me to make financial provision and property adjustment orders although I note that the power is permissory ("may make") rather than mandatory.  In deciding whether to exercise my powers, I must consider the matters set out in section 18.  I have to have regard to all the circumstances of the case and, in particular, the factors in section 25(2) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and the duties imposed by section 25A. 

55. I need only refer to one authority, namely the Supreme Court decision in the case of Agbaje v Agbaje [2010] UKSC 13; [2010] 1 FLR 1813.  The proper approach to be taken in a case such as this is set out by Lord Collins of Mapesbury at Paragraphs [71] to [73] of his speech.  I do not propose to repeat these important paragraphs word for word.  I distil the following principles:-

(a) The intention of the Act was the alleviation of the adverse consequences of no, or no adequate, financial provision being made by a foreign court in a situation where there were substantial connections with England and Wales

(b) The situation is different from an application that is made pursuant to the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 as Lord Collins makes plain that some of the matters to be considered under section 16 may be relevant to section 18, and vice versa.

(c) It is not the purpose of Part III to allow a spouse with some English connections to make an application in England and to take advantage of what may well be the more generous approach in England to financial provision, particularly in so-called big-money cases, although there is no condition of exceptionality.

(d) Hardship or injustice is not a condition of the exercise of the jurisdiction but, if either factor is present, it may make it appropriate in the light of all the circumstances, for an order to be made and may affect the nature of the provision ordered.

(e) The amount of the financial provision will depend on all the circumstances of the case and there is no rule that it should be the minimum amount required to overcome injustice.  It will never be appropriate to give the claimant more than she or he would have been awarded had all the proceedings taken place within this jurisdiction.  Where possible, the order should have the result that provision is made for the reasonable needs of each spouse.  Subject to these principles, the court has a broad discretion. 

(f) The grant of leave does not inevitably trigger a full blown claim for all forms of ancillary relief.

56. It is, therefore, clear that, as I am applying a different statute, different considerations apply compared to a pure MCA 1973 application.  In this regard, I agree with the observations of Coleridge J in Z v A [2012] EWHC 467; [2012] 2 FLR 667.  It follows that I disagree with the observations of Mostyn J made at [2014] EWHC 3411.  The award may be the same as it would have been under the 1973 Act, if the English connections are very strong but, equally, it may not be.  It all depends on the circumstances of the particular case being tried.  
 
57. I will have to make findings as to the connection between these parties and this country.  I will have to determine whether it is appropriate or not to make an order in the first place.  If I decide to do so, I will have to consider what order to make.  It is rightly not suggested by Mr Pointer that this is a case for sharing.  He approaches it on the basis that I should make an award to satisfy his client's reasonable needs, generously assessed, in the context of my findings as to the wealth of the parties.  The concept of reasonable needs is, of course, a very elastic one.  It is hard to argue with the proposition that the vast majority of the population could cover their reasonable needs more than adequately on the net equity from the Paris property but this is not a normal case, given the sumptuous standard of living and the Wife's assertions as to the Husband's fortune.  I will have to return to this in due course.  
 
58. I am firmly of the view that I do not need to consider in any detail the numerous authorities on ascertaining the beneficial interests in property.  In almost every respect, the section 17 application is subsumed by the Part III application.  Moreover, I am very clear that, in this particular case, a determination of the facts will obviate any need to consider in depth the law as to property ownership.  There is, however, one aspect that I must consider carefully and that is the concept of a company owning a property as nominee  for its controller as established by the Supreme Court decision in the case of Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd [2013] UKSC 34; [2013] 2 FLR 732.  Paragraph 52 of the speech of Lord Sumption is in the following terms:-

"Whether assets legally vested in a company are beneficially owned by its controller is a highly fact-specific issue.  It is not possible to give general guidance going beyond the ordinary principles and presumptions of equity, especially those relating to gifts and resulting trusts.  But, I venture to suggest, however tentatively, that in the case of the matrimonial home, the facts are quite likely to justify the inference that the property was held on a trust for a spouse who owned and controlled the company.  In many, perhaps most cases, the occupation of the company's property as the matrimonial home of its controller will not be easily justified in the company's interest, especially if it is gratuitous.  The intention will normally be that the spouse in control of the company intends to retain a degree of control over the matrimonial home which is not consistent with the company's beneficial ownership.  Of course, structures can be devised which give a different impression, and some of them may be entirely genuine.  But where, say, the terms of acquisition and occupation of the matrimonial home are arranged between the husband in his personal capacity and the husband in his capacity as the sole effective agent of the company (or someone acting at his direction), judges exercising family jurisdiction are entitled to be sceptical about whether the terms of occupation are really what they are said to be, or are simply a sham to conceal the reality of the husband's beneficial ownership." 

59. Numerous other matters of law have been raised at various points.  I have considered very carefully all the legal principles and authorities relied on by both sides.  At this point, I only need to remind myself of two in particular.  First, I have conducted the case in English.  This was not the first language of any of the witnesses, other than Mr Mason and Mr Haque.  Three of the witnesses (including the Husband) gave evidence in Arabic by video link translated by an interpreter at this end.  One other witness gave evidence here in Arabic.  The other three witnesses (including the Wife) gave evidence in English but it was not their first language.  I accept that I must therefore take great care in assessing the evidence, given that processing information provided in a foreign language (or translated from a foreign language) may put the participant at a disadvantage.  I must guard against the very real possibility that questions or answers or both are misunderstood or at the least nuances and shades of different meaning are lost in the process.  I also accept that answers may be repeated by the interpreter in a dispassionate/neutral manner whereas the original response may have been loaded with relevant emotion.  I have taken all this into account in assessing the evidence of all the witnesses and, in particular, both parties.  

60. Second, the Wife's case is that the Husband has not given a full and frank account of his financial position. I remind myself that the burden of proof is on he or she who seeks to assert a positive case as to disputed facts, although it is for the respondent to the application to provide to the applicant and the court all the relevant information.  This has been described as the duty to provide full and frank disclosure. The standard of proof is the civil standard, namely the balance of probabilities.  I have considered the authorities in this area carefully, including the decision of Sachs J in J v J [1955] P 215, the Court of Appeal in Baker v Baker [1995] 2 FLR 829 and Mostyn J in Kremen v Agrest [2012] EWHC 45, [2012] 2 FLR 414. I have to consider the competing evidence and the various documents which the Wife says show the Husband's account of his financial circumstances to be untrue.  Butler-Sloss LJ said in Baker that the principle had been accepted for over forty years that a court can draw inferences in an appropriate case.  It is up to the respondent to open the cupboard door and show that the cupboard is bare.  If he does not do so, the court can draw the inference that the cupboard is not bare.  This is not an improper reversal of the burden of proof.  It remains for the applicant to prove her case.  A failure by the respondent to discharge the duty of providing full and frank disclosure can, therefore, lead the court to draw such inferences as are appropriate.  If the inferences drawn are, in fact, unfair on the respondent, he only has himself to blame.

My assessment of the parties  
61. The Wife gave evidence in person in English.  I accept that English is not her first (or possibly even her second) language. She does, however, have a very good grasp of the language.  She gave a full account of her position and answered questions put to her by Mr Amos carefully and conscientiously.  In some respects, I am not going to be able to accept her evidence.  I find that she has embellished and altered her recollection to suit her case and the subsequent history.  It is, however, clear that she is not a lady of business.  I am quite clear that she was primarily a homemaker and mother.  This does not make her contribution to this marriage any the less.  The authorities make it clear that she is not to be discriminated against for the way in which the parties organised their respective roles.  
 
62. The Husband gave his evidence in Arabic by way of video link from Jeddah.  I consider that, for a man approaching the age of ninety at the time, he was in good health and robust.  He understood all the questions and answered clearly and with great courtesy.  He did, occasionally, attempt to hide behind a lack of memory but, in general, his evidence was far more impressive than that of his Finance Director, AH.  This does not mean that I accept all his evidence.  In material respects, I reject it.  In particular, I reject it as to the current financial position of the K Group. I do, however, largely accept it in relation to the beneficial interests in the various properties. 

63. I now propose to make my specific findings on the numerous issues in the case.  I propose to take them in the following order:-

(a) Jurisdiction for the Part III claim;

(b) The alleged 2000/2001 Agreement;

(c) The transfers of property;

(d) The ownership of the London Property ;

(e) The ownership of Paris/Cannes;

(f) The Husband's wealth;

(g) Whether or not the Wife removed significant sums from the K Group; and

(h) The Wife's needs.

Jurisdiction in relation to the Part III claim
64. I am quite satisfied that there is jurisdiction for the Wife to bring her Part III claim.  On any view, she has been habitually resident here throughout the period of one year ending with the date on which she made the second application, namely 13th November.  She resided almost throughout at the London Property . She left the country only for a short holiday at the Cannes property and for the period when she had to reside in Beirut so as to be able to apply for her investor's visa.  In fairness, Mr Amos did not actively contest that this was the case.  
 
65. Having said that, I also find that the Wife was domiciled in this jurisdiction on 17th July 2014.  I accept that she has a Lebanese domicile of origin but it is clear that she lost this in favour of a domicile of choice in Saudi Arabia during the 44 years that she lived there from 1969 to 2013.  It is equally clear that she has now lost that domicile of choice.  I am quite satisfied that she has left Saudi Arabia permanently.  Her marriage has broken down irretrievably.  I accept her reasoning as to why she would not want to live there again.  I find that she only remained there after her first divorce because EK was, at the time, a minor and IB was still dependant.  I recognise that EK remains there but he has married.  Her evidence was compelling when she told me that she could visit him whenever she wanted but would not wish to live there.

66. On the balance of probabilities, I find that she has established a domicile of choice in this jurisdiction.  She told me she has no wish to return to Lebanon.  Although her sister is there, it is a country that has a troubled history and is not entirely free of those difficulties.  She told me in evidence "I want to stay in London for my whole life".  She had earlier said she loved England and will die here.  On this, I believe her.  It was suggested that there was "a pull of the United States", as several of her relatives are there but she has no real connections to that country and no right to reside there.  She has a right to reside here for the next three years and I am satisfied that she is able to extend that to permanent residence.  I find that she will do so.  There is therefore jurisdiction for me to consider the Wife's Part III application.

The alleged 2000/2001 Agreement
67. I accept the evidence of the Wife and her sister, AA, that the Husband did contact the Wife via AA about a possible reconciliation and remarriage.  I find that they met in London.  I consider the Wife was concerned about her financial security but remarriage of itself would have improved her position immeasurably.  On the balance of probabilities, I find that she did raise her financial security with the Husband, possibly to test his reaction as an indicator of whether or not he was serious about the reconciliation.  I reject the claim that he promised to transfer all his domestic properties to her.  It is inherently improbable.  He is a Saudi businessman with great stature.  I cannot conceive that he would willingly part with all his residential property.  Why should he?  I consider that he probably gave the Wife various assurances that she would be looked after properly.  He had, however, no intention of losing control of his various residential properties.  
 
68. If I need any support for my findings I can readily find that support in the fact that the Husband did absolutely nothing for over three years.  He did not place any of the properties in her name.  The Wife took no action.  She did not complain, so far as I can ascertain.  When the Husband bought a property in Beirut in 2004, he acquired the property in his name.  Given that the Wife is from the Lebanon, he would surely have transferred that property into her name if there was any truth in his alleged promise.  There was not.

The transfers of property
69. I find that the various property transfers that took place were all motivated by financial considerations, particularly tax.  The Husband had absolutely no intention of losing control of the properties.  Everyone knew this, including all the financial advisers who acted in the various transactions.  He did indeed change the legal title to various properties but he remained the sole beneficial owner of each property.
 
70. There are numerous documents which support this fully. I have no doubt that the Wife knew it was the case as well.  So far as the French properties were concerned, the transfers to the two Luxembourg companies were part of a very carefully considered tax planning strategy to avoid French wealth tax.  Alerion was instructed to advise and carry out such a strategy for this reason and this reason alone.  I reject Mr Pointer's submission that the Husband could have done this without giving the Wife the shares.  He was advised to put as much distance between himself and the structure.  He did so.  I have already referred to the email IK sent on 29th April 2006, to M CG, the lawyer advising the Husband at Alerion saying that he had "attached two translated acknowledgments. The first is us (my mother, my brother and myself) acknowledging the true ownership of any properties, bank accounts, companies etc…is to my father".  I accept entirely that the document we have is unsigned but the wording is clear.  It sets out the transfer of a number of assets to the Wife, including the Jeddah property, the London Property and the Paris and Cannes properties.  It then says "all the abovementioned currently or in the future as stated with details is fully owned by (the Husband)." It refers to the fact that he has paid for all of these assets from his personal money.  It acknowledges that the three individuals are "fully ready at first demand from him to register whatever he wants or transfer the company shares or bank accounts or cash money to his name or any name he selects without any objection or prejudice or referring to any legal action in KSA or abroad."  I consider it is fanciful to suggest that the Wife was not aware of this.  
 
71. An American firm, Moore & Bruce LLP was asked to advise Alerion on the matter.  A memorandum dated 14 June 2006 states that "the funds used to acquire the assets, including the funds deposited in the bank accounts, all originated from (the Husband).  He did not intend to give the assets to (the Wife and the children) and this fact was always understood by all concerned."

72. On 11th May 2010, the Wife and EK signed an "Acknowledgment".  It said that "without pressure or aggression…we hereby state that, as beneficial owners of the companies (M Holding and L Holding), that the properties (Paris and Cannes) are in the fact fully owned by (the Husband), who he is consequently the only beneficial owner."  It goes on to add that "hereby, we the abovementioned two individuals, are fully ready at first demand from him to register or transfer the companies shares (M Holding and L Holding) to his name without any objection or prejudice or referring to any legal  action in KSA or abroad".  The Wife complains that she was asked to sign this shortly after the death of IK.  I certainly accept that it was signed only some seventeen days after his death, but I am satisfied that it reflected the reality and the Wife knew this.  The fact that the declaration clearly shows the companies holding the properties on trust for the Husband is, however, very relevant when I come to consider the position so far as the London Property is concerned.

73. The Husband says that he transferred the Jeddah property to the Wife to avoid potential creditors in Saudi Arabia.  I have been referred to a number of authorities concerning illegality but I do not need to consider them.  The property was subsequently transferred back into the name of the Husband in June 2011.  She did not complain. She did not say that this re-transfer was in breach of the agreement.  It was not.  She was, of course, in no position to object but I am quite clear in my own mind that this Husband would never want any of his wives to be the true beneficial owner of his magnificent palace in Jeddah. 

74. The position is even clearer so far as the Beirut property is concerned.  It was only transferred to K Real Estate SAL (Lebanon) in the run up to the sale.  At virtually the same time, on 19th May 2011, the Wife and EK signed a letter confirming that the sale proceeds were to be paid to the Husband.  When the property was sold for $15,500,000, the net proceeds were indeed paid to him.  I am quite satisfied this was all done for tax reasons.  It had absolutely nothing to do with an alleged agreement in 2000/2001.   Indeed, if it had, the Wife would have received the proceeds.

The London Property
75. During the course of the case, it clearly emerged that there had been far more manoeuvring as to the bearer shares in S Investments than the Husband had been prepared to admit.  On 14th September 2004, RE, a lawyer at the Husband's London solicitors, Stephenson Harwood, sent an email to an employee of the K Group, AE, which said "following discussions with Barclays, they have agreed in principle to hold the bearer certificates in Jersey on behalf of (the Wife). We are sending them the form of Certificate of Deposit for their approval.  As you may recall, AMACO (the previous name for SGG), previously confirmed to us that this Certificate will be sufficient to transfer the beneficial interest in the bearer shares from (the Husband) to (the Wife)." There follows a number of communications of a similar nature in which statements are made such as "SK now proposes to transfer the beneficial ownership of the shares to his wife…" and that, if this was to happen, Barclays would need a personal guarantee from the Husband.  Indeed, Mr Pointer relies on a further email from RE dated 19th October 2005 which indicates that the transfer had taken place. It says "as you may be aware, a Certificate of Deposit has been signed by both SK and MA however it also needs to be signed on behalf of the Bank…"  The email goes on to say that "in view of the transfer of the beneficial ownership of the Property to MA, I understand there is also to be a lease of the Property granted to SK for his lifetime." Indeed, a licence to occupy was prepared and signed by both the Husband and the Wife.
 
76. It does, however, seem that nothing much further happened.  On 28th November 2006, CG sent an email to IK which said in relation to the London property "following your request, we stop working on this matter."  In 2008, however, a decision was taken to change the Managing Directors of S Investments to EK and WAS.  Whilst I am quite satisfied that no Board Meeting took place, I have already mentioned that I have seen two virtually identical Minutes of a meeting of the shareholders.  One version has the Wife and IK present and signing as "Owner/Shareholders".  The other has the Husband and IK present and signing as "Owner/Shareholders".  In addition, there is an extremely convoluted history in relation to the holding of the Bearer Share Certificates. 

77. I have no doubt that SGG in Curacao are an entirely reputable company doing their best to manage S Investments.  It was, however, clear that SGG was kept largely in the dark as to what was going on.  Inevitably, SGG's principals and employees have put in statements saying that everything was above board and the London Property was an asset of S Investments.  I heard oral evidence from a former employee, MTZ.  She stated that the Husband was the sole beneficial owner of S Investments and that S Investments owned the London Property.  Yet she clearly knew nothing about the mid-2005 manoeuvring I have set out above.  She was referred to the financial statements and auditor's report of S Investments for the years to 31st December 2000, 2001 and 2002.  All three documents state that S Investments has no assets.  Her only response was to say that these accounts were prepared by a Saudi accountant, M Zufari and that Curacao law at the time did not require any property to be included.  This still does not explain why the accounts of S Investments do not include the London Property as an asset, if indeed, it was an asset.  The accountant, moreover, said that the statements "present fairly the financial position of the corporation".  It is difficult to see how this could be the case if the London Property really was an asset of S Investments.  
 
78. It is entirely right to note that the accounts for 2003 onwards do include the London Property as an asset.  However, that does not really assist the Husband given that all the accounts are dated 26th May 2014, long after this case commenced and it was known that this was an important issue.  It is right that SGG had attempted to obtain these accounts, to no avail, on a number of occasions.  It is also right that the K Group put in train the preparation of the accounts last year, before this litigation commenced but I am told the versions I have seen are "restated" accounts.  I accept that MTZ told me that the first drafts included the property but I am by no means clear when they were first prepared.

79. I am entirely clear that the Husband is cavalier as to the running of S Investments.  I have formed the very clear conclusion that this is because it does not matter to him.  He is the beneficial owner and S Investments is just his nominee.  There is no doubt in my mind that the London Property is a matrimonial home. It is not the main matrimonial home but you can have more than one matrimonial home and the parties here undoubtedly occupied it as husband and wife.  The observations of Lord Sumption are therefore pertinent.  There are, however, numerous other reasons why it is clear that the Husband is the sole beneficial owner.  For example:-

(a) The acknowledgment from the Wife and EK that the Husband owns the French properties (also matrimonial homes and also held by limited liability companies) in exactly this way.

(b) The fact that the Husband was prepared to transfer the shares in S Investments to the Wife even though I am absolutely clear that he intended to keep the ownership of the property.  He could transfer the shares in S Investments to her yet keep the ownership because S Investments was a nominee.

(c) He provided the entire purchase price and the K Group has financed the property throughout at a very high level.

(d) He was paid the proceeds of all mortgages and re-mortgages.  Moreover, he had to guarantee the loan once the Wife became involved in the structure.

(e) The earlier accounts reflected the true position and were confirmed by his Saudi auditor.

(f) He operated through bearer shares, a clear indication that he was not really bothered about the corporate position.

(g) He kept SGG largely in the dark as to what was going on.  SGG and S Investments were used as a convenience not as the legal owners of the property.  

Cannes and Paris
80. I have already found that the Husband retained the beneficial ownership of both French properties so far as English law is concerned.  Again, the companies were merely his nominee.  Having said that, the Wife was the legal owner of the shares.  I have not heard evidence as to French law but my understanding has always been that the French legal system does not recognise trust arrangements and nominees.  
 
81. I accept the evidence of Mr NEF, the Husband's Private Office Manager who said that at the end of May 2012 the Husband received an offer to purchase the Paris flat.  NEF was instructed to tell the Wife that the Husband wished to sell the Paris flat on the basis that he would receive the net proceeds of sale.  The Wife refused to co-operate unless she received part of the proceeds.  NEF informed the Husband who was unhappy but instructed him to offer the Wife €500,000 to cooperate in the sale.  The Wife accepted this offer immediately, agreeing to sign the necessary documents. Indeed, she signed a power of attorney to the Husband to operate the accounts of M Holdings.  Unfortunately, the sale did not complete but a further offer was received in June 2013.  On this occasion, the Wife refused to give authority to the Husband and said she would deal with the transaction.  She did, however, confirm that she would transfer the proceeds to the Husband.  The Wife signed the final sale agreement on 11th December 2013 but, in breach of the agreement, kept the proceeds of sale on 26th December.  I have already noted that the Husband subsequently agreed that she could retain these proceeds as her "divorce settlement". 
 
82. It seems tolerably clear from this that the legal position in France is that the Wife is entitled to the proceeds of a sale of the Cannes property as the legal owner.  If this had not been the position, I do not believe the French lawyers would have paid her the proceeds of the Paris flat.  I do not know if the Husband has any right of redress but I suspect he does not.  It may be that it is for this reason that Mr Amos urges me to make any award, if I find that one is justified, out of the proceeds of sale of the Cannes property.

The Husband's financial position
83. I now turn to the Husband's financial position.  I am quite satisfied that I have not been given a full and frank account of the position.  It is much more difficult to make findings as to the reality of his position.
 
84. The Wife has said throughout that the Husband is worth in the order of $1 billion.  Her case is that this is what he told her repeatedly.  On Thursday 13th November 2014, the disclosure was received from Barclays.  A document dated 6th February 2014 gives the total net worth in dollars of the Husband as being $1,000,000,000.  It also says that his net annual income is $76 million.  The notes say that he is an extremely well known Saudi businessman with an excellent reputation in the Kingdom. Whilst I recognise that a businessman is unlikely to present a negative position to a bank, it is noteworthy that this chimes exactly with the Wife's account.

85. When AH filed his statement, he included a set of financial statements for the K Group for the year ending 31st December 2013.  These had been audited although it is right to note that there was a qualified opinion on the basis that the auditors "have not obtained a direct proof of investment funds".  In every other respect, however, the financial statements "give a fair view of the state of the Group Foundation's position as at December 31, 2013 and of the Group Foundation's profit and cash flows for the year then ended; in accordance with the recognized Accounting Standards and appropriate to the Group Foundation's circumstances."

86. The balance sheet gives a very different picture to that presented by the Husband.  It shows total net assets of SR 575,382,789, which is just under £96 million at a rate of exchange of 6 Saudi Riyals to the Pound.  The assets include SR 35,413,245 in cash (£5.9 million), investments of SR 27.9 million (£4.65 million), lands available for sale of SR 344.6 million (£57.4 million) and fixed assets of SR 42.9 million (£7.15 million).  The income statement shows sales for the year of SR 72.6 million (£12.1 million) and a net profit of SR 36.9 million (£6.15 million).  The Bank, however, was given different figures, albeit for a slightly different accounting period. The same auditor, Ahmed A Bajneid, certified on 22nd September 2013 that this disclosure was a fair presentation of the assets and liabilities of the Group.  It showed total assets (at market value as opposed to book value) of SR 3.7 billion (or £616 million) with liabilities of SR 242 million (much of which consisted of the loans on the London Property  and French properties).  The net figure would be around £500 million.

87. I have already noted the Husband's 2014 income forecast in his Form E where he postulated total gross income of £1,303,492 and a loss after expenses of £1,864,045.  The Bank, on the other hand, was told the income forecast for 2014 was SR 276 million (£46 million).  Yet AH and the retired judge firmly contend that there are no assets at all as everything is subject to litigation that will, in all likelihood, be lost.  AH's evidence on the matter was deeply unsatisfactory.  He kept referring to the difference between book value and market value to explain the difference between the schedules.  He specifically said on seven separate occasions that the value presented to the Bank was either the "real value" or the "market value".  He did, however, refer to the figures in his schedule showing nil value as being "the value if it was to be liquidated".  I need to be fair to him and not to place too much weight on his statements that the figures to the Bank were "market value" because it was tolerably clear that he was trying to contrast these values to what he alleged was the current realisable value.  Nevertheless, I simply cannot accept the overall presentation.  It would involve finding that the Group had deliberately misled the Bank and that all the investments had very quickly become of nil value.  Attempts to blame IK simply do not work when IK died four and a half years ago.  
 
88. I accept Mr Pointer's submission that the court does not take "fire sale" values in assessing the true financial position of a party to financial remedy proceedings.  I do not, moreover, accept that "nil" is the fire sale value of all the assets of the K Group. The Husband told me that land values in Saudi Arabia had increased markedly since 2010.  It stretches credulity far too far to find that every asset has gone bad.  Moreover, the Husband told the Bank that the value of the Jeddah property was worth SR 315 million (or £52.5 million).  This property is not affected by litigation or disputes as to title yet he told this court it was worth only £16.6 million. 

89. Mr Pointer, Mrs Carew Pole and Miss Cornwall produced a number of schedules that cast very significant doubt on what I was being told by the Husband and AH.  One showed that land valued at SR 196.5 million (£27.5 million) had recently been sold.  They also referred me to a 2010 schedule that suggested the true value of land that remains owned by the Group was worth SR 1.9 billion (or £331 million).   They argue that I should find that the Husband has total wealth of at least £600 million.

90. I must, however, be fair to the Husband.  He sold the Beirut property.  He sold the Paris flat.  The Cannes property is subject to a loan of nearly €10 million.  The London Property is subject to a loan of £10.8 million.  If the Husband is so wealthy and has no cash flow problems, it is difficult to see why these properties are so heavily mortgaged.  Mr Pointer said that it would make sense to have a large loan outstanding on Cannes to guard against French Wealth Tax. He may be right about that, although I have no expert evidence to that effect.  He had to concede, however, that this did not explain the very high loan on London nor the sale of Paris and Beirut. 

91. I have come to the conclusion that I cannot accept the evidence of the Husband and AH.  It was self-serving.  The documents produced did not begin to support it. I do accept that there are likely to be some difficulties with legal title. After all, it is accepted that buying properties subject to such difficulties is the Husband's modus operandi.  He has been remarkably successful in so doing but I propose to assume that one-half of his ventures will go bad.  For this reason, I assess his Saudi wealth at half Mr Pointer's figure (which assumes all land deals come good).  This leads to a figure for the value of the K Group of £250 million.  In addition, he has the value of the Jeddah property, which I assess at the Wife's figure of £26.7 million, making a broad Saudi wealth of £275 million.  If that is unfair to him, he only has himself to blame for trying to pretend all the deals will fail.  Whilst I accept that he has to wait until another sale is achieved, there is nothing to indicate that he is not making such sales with sufficient regularity to discharge his obligations.  He has paid his costs of these proceedings in full.  He has maintained the London Property and Cannes properties.  When we last had the figure, there was significant cash at bank in the Group.  I therefore reject the suggestion that he cannot manage his own expenditure.  He has not laid off his forty staff at the Jeddah property or placed the property on the market.  Indeed, I find that his annual expenditure is far in excess of £2 million.  I put it at between £5 and £10 million pa.   
 
92. He does, of course have other assets.  He has spent £816,442 in costs.  Ignoring, for the moment, the issues about Cannes and the London Property , the net figures are as follows:-

(a) The London Property                       £3,597,868
(b) Cannes  (after CGT)                        £5,226,563
(c) NCB European Investment Portfolio  £   945,000
(d) Personal belongings                        £2,644,800

    Total                                              £12,414,231

93. I do not include the proceeds of sale of the Beirut property as I take the view that these have been returned to Saudi Arabia and either spent or included in the cash assets of the K Group.  It follows that I assess the Husband's total resources at around £287.5 million, albeit that this is by no means all liquid resources.

The alleged debt of the Wife to the K Group
94. I have come to a very clear view of the allegation that the Wife has, in effect, stolen many millions from the K Group.  There is absolutely no truth in it whatsoever and it does the Husband no credit to attempt to rely on it.  She is not a thief and would not have had the commercial experience to arrange such a fraud.  Moreover, why, at that stage, would the Wife want to steal from the K Group?  I have already noted that it was not until the Husband swore his Form E that the allegation was first made.  I agree with Mr Pointer that, had there been any truth in it, it would have been raised far earlier. It was, after all, AH's evidence that the transactions were discovered after IK's death.  It would undoubtedly have featured in the letter when the Husband allowed the Wife to keep the proceeds of sale of the Paris flat.  Moreover, the allegation has undoubtedly changed on a number of occasions.  The Form E allegation was £31 million.  The schedule produced by the Husband was £24 million.  AH talked of the deficit being SR 44 million (or £7.3 million).  Mr Amos referred to the unexplained figure being in the order of £10 million.

95. As it was, the Wife was able to respond remarkably quickly and effectively to the allegation.   She produced copies of her bank statements from 12th December 2006 to 28th January 2012.  They showed a very significant number of credits to the account, totalling some SR 369 million (£61 million).  It was of note that SR 262 million (£43.6 million) came from the Husband himself, not the K Group.  There were, however, an equally large number of transfers out. These included very significant transfers to the K Group (SR 229 million or £38 million) although it is true that there were transfers to IK (SR 26.7 million or £4.45 million) and EK (SR 41.7 million or £6.95 million).  The Wife also produced the originals of a large number of forms on K Group headed notepaper.  They had the Husband's signature on them.  They authorised IK to transfer money to the Wife as "a gift from me to her".  These totalled SR 110 million (or £18.3 million).  The Husband did not really dispute that these authorisations contained his signature.  It was alleged that many of them had ink smudges on the back.  It was suggested that this showed they were all signed together.  I am quite unable to make any findings about that as I have not heard expert evidence.  I do, however, reject any suggestion that the Husband would not have known what he was doing when he signed these authorisations.  He may be old but he is very much "on the ball".  Second, even if some of these were signed retrospectively, they undoubtedly predated this dispute so cannot have been created by the Wife to deal with this argument.  
 
96. The most that the Husband can even possibly say is that around £11 million went to IK and EK.  I have not, however, been conducting any investigation into their affairs.  I have not heard from EK.  There may well be very good reasons for these transfers.  It cannot possibly be said, however, that this is evidence that the Wife has access to any undisclosed money.  Indeed, I find the contrary.  She does not have any such access. 

97. Other than her legal interest in the Cannes property, her resources are now limited to the cash and investments she retains from the sale of the Paris apartment.  She has incurred £695,266 on costs, all of which has been paid.  She retains cash at bank of £1,073,211 and a Coutts investment portfolio worth £616,402.  In addition, she has personal belongings worth £205,014.

The connection of the parties to London
98. I now turn to assess the parties' connection to England and Wales.  Mr Amos argues that it is virtually non-existent.  Mr Pointer says it is substantial.  As so often, the truth lies somewhere in between.  I do, however, reject Mr Amos' suggestion that the connection is very minor.  There can be no doubt that:-

(a) The parties' original marriage took place here.

(b) Throughout the marriage they have owned a substantial home here.

(c) EK was born here.

(d) The parties spent considerable periods of time here in the four years prior to their first marriage and for a couple of years thereafter.

(e) The Husband has had memberships at several London Clubs.

(f) At times, the children attended nurseries here during the summer holidays.

(g) Both parties have had medical treatment here on occasions as have the children.

(h) The Wife has lived here since September 2013.

99. There is no doubt that, during the marriage, until the Husband became too frail to travel, they came here for a significant part of each summer, in part because of the intolerable heat in Saudi Arabia.  I have heard significant evidence as to this.  It is right that the Wife originally said they came to London typically for at least five months each year, with trips to Cannes.  She later said the period in London was for at least two months pa.  The Husband produced a schedule purporting to show that they were here for only 10 – 12 days pa on average.  The schedule, however, is unreliable.  It includes many entries saying "unknown" or "duration unknown".  It certainly appears to omit at least one three month visit here.  Moreover, an average over the entire period is misleading given that the Husband has been unable to travel here for over four years.  I have come to the conclusion that the average time spent here by the parties each year was between one and two months.  This is not an insignificant amount. 

The section 16 factors
100.  I have already referred to section 16 of the 1984 Act.  I must consider whether it would be appropriate in all the circumstances of the case to make an order.  If I am not so satisfied, I must dismiss the application.  I have to consider in particular the matters set out in section 16(2).  I have considered carefully the question of the connection the parties have to England and Wales above.  The connection they have with the country in which the marriage was dissolved, namely Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly very significant.  Indeed, the only real caveat to it is that it is not the place where the Wife will be residing in the future.  So far as other countries are concerned, they also have a connection with France.  The Cannes property remains even though Paris has been sold.  This French connection is certainly not as great as the connection with London.  They also have a connection with the Lebanon, although this is almost entirely through the Wife and I have already found that she does not intend to live there in the future, although she will undoubtedly visit for short periods.

101. I must next consider any financial benefit which the Wife has received or is likely to receive in consequence of the divorce by virtue of an agreement or the operation of the law of a country outside England and Wales.  It is common ground that the Wife has no right to claim any financial provision in Saudi Arabia. She has, of course, received the proceeds of sale of the Paris flat by the agreement of the Husband.  No order has been made elsewhere so I do not need to consider the extent to which it has been complied with.  Equally, she has no right to make a claim for financial relief elsewhere and has not omitted to exercise any such right. 
 
102. Turning to the availability of property in England and Wales in respect of which an order can be made, I am satisfied that the London Property is beneficially owned by the Husband.  It follows that it is susceptible to orders of this court.  So far as the extent to which any other orders may be enforceable, I have been referred to the cases of Razelos v Razelos (Number 2) [1970] 1 WLR 393 and Hamlin v Hamlin [1986] Fam 11.  In short, I do have jurisdiction to make an order in respect of a property situated outside England and Wales.  I should decline to do so if the order would be ineffective under the foreign jurisdiction or for some other reason.  But I am entitled to assume that such an order will be effective in the absence of evidence to the contrary. 

103. Finally, I must consider the length of time which has elapsed since the date of the divorce.  In this case, there has been, in effect, no delay at all. 

104. Having considered all these factors carefully, I have come to the very clear conclusion that it is appropriate for me to make an order.  I am not therefore required to dismiss the application.  I consider that there is sufficient connection with this country for this court to intervene.  The fact that the Wife has no remedy in Saudi Arabia is an important factor. When combined with the connection to this country, the existence of the London Property  here and my findings as to the Wife's future intentions, I am satisfied that it is appropriate for me to go on and consider the section 18 factors and, in particular, the matters set out in section 25 of the MCA 1973. 

The section 25 factors
105. This was a long marriage.  Even if I ignore the position prior to the original marriage in 1979 and the period when the parties were first divorced, I am dealing with a marriage of some 31 years.  There were two children and this Wife has made a full contribution during the marriage by looking after the family and the homes.  She undoubtedly has significant needs that are unmet without an award from this court.  The Husband has the resources to meet those needs without difficulty. 
 
106. Having said all that, even if this was an entirely English case, there would undoubtedly be arguments that it was not suitable for sharing (or at least full sharing), given that the Husband was aged 54 at the time of the first marriage and had undoubtedly created very significant wealth by that stage.  I am not going to determine the issue definitively as I do not need to do so and I have not been addressed upon it.   I do, however, accept that, if this was a fully English case and it was determined solely on the basis of the law as it applies to the 1973 Act, Mr Pointer might very well succeed in obtaining an award of £44 million (as the Wife seeks) out of total assets of £287.5 million.  I broadly accept that, in such circumstances, I would probably consider, even on a needs basis, that it would be reasonable for the Wife to have the London Property and the Cannes properties free of mortgage along with a significant income producing award.

107. This case is not, however, an entirely English one.  I simply cannot ignore the Saudi element.  It is of considerable importance.  Although the Wife has satisfied me that I should make an order, I must do so on the basis of all the circumstances, which include the fact that the connection with this country is limited.  I have wondered to what extent it is appropriate to take into account enforcement difficulties that the Wife would have if I made the substantial lump sum order she seeks.  In fully English cases, I accept that such considerations are not relevant as a respondent cannot evade his or her liability by placing his assets outside the reach of the court.  In this case, however, I note that enforceability is a relevant factor in section 16(2) and, as Lord Collins confirms in Agbaje, section 16(2) factors do not simply disappear once a judge has found that the case is suitable for an order to be made. 

108. I have come to the clear conclusion that I should provide for the Wife on a "needs light" basis.  I do not consider this should be restricted to the Radmacher v Granatino [2010] UKSC 42; [2010] 2 FLR 1900 concept of merely ensuring that a party is not left in a "predicament of real need".  After all, it could be said that even the £1,689,613 that she has remaining is sufficient to escape from such a predicament.  It would not, however, be nearly sufficient given the other factors, such as the length of the marriage, the contributions, the wealth of the Husband and the standard of living enjoyed.

109. Mr Amos put to the Wife that she could purchase a perfectly reasonable flat in the St John's Wood area for £3.25 million.  He produced a number of particulars to support his contentions.  Her only real response was to ask why she should have to live more cheaply than she had during the marriage.  I consider that these particulars are reasonable.  I recognise that there will be significant costs of purchase and probably some costs of refurbishment.  I allow £3.5 million for London housing.

110. I must then consider whether or not it is reasonable for her to have a holiday home.  Given the huge wealth of her Husband, I have come to the conclusion that it is but not at the sort of level of the Cannes property.  I allocate £2.25 million for a replacement holiday home, to include the costs of purchase. 

111. Turning to her income needs, she deposes to expenditure requirements of £566,045 pa.  Whilst I entirely accept that this is reflective of the standard of living during the marriage, I do not consider it is reasonable going forward.  It includes, for example, £75,000 pa on clothes, £20,000 pa on jewellery, £25,000 pa on footwear and £25,000 pa on handbags and other accessories.  It includes high figures for household expenses, based on the costs of running the London Property  and the Cannes property.  I have come to the conclusion that an appropriate budget is £225,000 pa.

112. Mr Pointer argued in his closing submissions that it was not appropriate to utilise a standard Duxbury calculation.  He contended that I should not amortize the capital fund.  I disagree, certainly when dealing with a case on a "needs light" basis.  The Duxbury Tables indicate a requirement of £4,241,000 would be needed.

113. This makes total needs of £10 million.  I am, however, concerned that it will take some time to sell the London Property and the Cannes property.  They have very significant mortgages on them.  There is cash of £332,868 at Barclays but it will soon go.  I take the view that I should allocate a further £500,000 to cover the outgoings on both properties pending sale.  If the Wife exceeds this figure, she will have only herself to blame.

114. I am going to ignore the Wife's jewellery, handbags and cars, totalling some £205,014.  She has capital of her own of £1,689,613.  The shortfall is therefore £8,801,387.

115. The net equity in the London Property is £3,597,868.  The net equity in Cannes is £5,226,563, making a total of £8,824,431.  It follows that I take the view that this court should award the Wife the equity in both properties in full and final settlement of her claims.

Order
116. Mr Amos asked me to order a sale of the London Property .  I am not going to do so.  It will be a matter for the Wife.  I am going to order a transfer of the property to her utilising the Prest mechanism and a transfer of the shareholding in S Investments on a belt and braces approach.  The Husband will have no further obligation to discharge the mortgage or the outgoings.  I recognise that he has given a guarantee.  The Wife will indemnify him in that regard.  I do not see this as a problem.  It is clear to me that Barclays will go against the London Property rather than the Husband if there were default. 
 
117. Turning to Cannes, I take the view that the Wife's legal interest in the shares will, in practice, give her the equity in that property regardless of my findings.  For the avoidance of doubt, however, I order a transfer of the Husband's beneficial interest in that property to the Wife. 

118. There will be a clean break in life and death.

119. There will be no order on the MWPA and Part IV proceedings.  S Investment's claim for possession is dismissed.

120. I have taken costs into account.  This strongly suggests no order as to costs.  I will, however, hear argument as to the costs of Barclays' involvement.  I ordered the Wife to pay the costs in the first instance but subject to a right of recovery against the Husband.  My provisional view is that the Husband should be ordered to pay those costs.