Multimillionaire Peter Brandon, 67, claimed he had stepped back into poverty after a court ruling won his wife compensation to the tune of £2.4 million after he had been accused of lying about family assets
He claimed the award to the wife would leave him ‘impoverished’ because his total wealth stood at £2million, while his ex-wife Christina continues to live in the £2million marital mansion.
He had been accused of spiriting away three Nazi-era gold bars as part of an attempt to conceal assets from his ex-wife. He was ordered to hand her a £2.4million divorce settlement yesterday.
A ruling by the Court of Appeal on Thursday backed the award made by Mr Justice Ryder in July at a lesser court.who The court had found that Mr Brandon had tried to conceal additional assets worth £2million – including the gold bars – from the court, in order to keep his wife from sharing them.
The court heard the bars were smuggled out of Austria in the 1930s by Mr Brandon’s Jewish father and grandfather, who hid them in their clothes as they fled the Nazis.
They were handed down to him and for years they were simply ‘lying around’ Nanfans Grange, the couple’s 11-bedroom country home in Prestwood, near Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire.
But Patrick Chamberlayne, representing Mr Brandon’s 62-year-old ex-wife, told the court that the bars – worth an estimated £62,000 – disappeared from the property when he announced he was leaving.
Mr Brandon, who has remarried since the couple’s 2008 divorce and now lives in Florida, denied taking the bars and said they could have been removed by anybody.
He claimed to have no secret wealth and said he lived on £2,000 a month.
When siding in Mrs Brandon’s favour in July, High Court Family Division judge Mr Justice Ryder commented on her ex-husband’s ‘lack of frankness, openness and honesty’.
He found that as well as deliberately concealing £2million of assets, he had lied about secret Swiss and Austrian bank accounts, and a number of properties that he owned.
Mr Brandon’s barrister, Michael Bailey, told the Appeal Court the family’s wealth was restored to them after the war and Mr Brandon’s father established a paper and plastic bag company in the UK, which was sold for £7million in 1986. Of the £4million left after tax, £2million went to Mr Brandon.
Mr Bailey told Lord Justice Thorpe and Lord Justice Longmore at the Court of Appeal that the ‘hidden pot of assets’ on which the original award was made did not exist.
But in dismissing Mr Brandon’s application to appeal against Mr Justice Ryder’s decision, Lord Justice Thorpe said that, while there was a risk that the ruling was unfair, that was acceptable, given that Mr Brandon had not been frank with the court.
Both parties refused to comment.