The bitter legal battle between Owen Glenn and Eric Watson has resulted in a four month prison term for Watson after he was sentenced to four months’ jail for contempt of court for withholding information from the philanthropist magnate.
The prominent businessman was handed the immediate prison sentence by a High Court judge in London. Watson is to appeal the order according to reports.
The legal battle between the two former business partners took place over two weeks in 2017 and involved a claim for almost $60 million that Glenn claimed. Glenn’s company, Kea Investments, had brought proceedings for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty against Watson in the High Court of England and Wales five years ago.
In 2018, Lord Justice Christopher Nugee ruled that Kea’s £129m (NZ$252m) investment in a joint European property venture with Watson, called Project Spartan, had been procured by deceit by Watson.
Justice Nugee ruled that Kea Investments was entitled to £43.5m compensation from Watson who was ordered to make an interim payment of more than £25m, plus £3.8m in costs.
The company was also given permission to trace and claim assets belonging to Watson and his associated companies in order to recover money owed.
In June 2019, Kea Investments applied to commit Watson for a number of alleged acts of contempt for failing to comply with those orders.
Justice Nugee said Watson chose to hide behind the fact that the account was in his mother’s name, Joan Pollock, and he strongly suspected that his mother may have been led to believe that it would suit Watson if she refused to provide them.
The judge said there were strong grounds to believe Watson had used the period between the end of trial and judgment being handed down to arrange his affairs to make it look like he had no assets and make it difficult for Kea to enforce any judgment.
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