14th May 2024

This long-running US$45m fraud claim (already the subject of decisions at [2022] EWHC 3087 (Comm) and [2023] EWHC 2666 (Comm) took a new turn on 29 April 2024 when the Defendants were each sentenced to 9 months’ imprisonment following their breach of a worldwide freezing order, granted by Mr Justice Jacobs following Simon Goldstone’s without notice application. The contempt was admitted; the decision is notable because it shows that where a respondent does not attend court for cross-examination (even on matters of mitigation) they run the risk that little or no weight will be given to their evidence. The decision is also a reminder of how seriously the Court will treat the breach of a freezing order; the husband and wife contemnors were each sent to prison even though they are the parents of young children. A suspended sentence might be appropriate if there is a chance that the contemnors can remedy the breach, but that was not possible here, given that the house had been sold and the damage irreversibly done.

The judgment is available here.

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