Winckworth Sherwood

UK 200 2014 position: 81

Divorce and company assets — when can the corporate veil be pierced?

Yasmin Prest, married to Nigerian oil tycoon Michael Prest, won her landmark divorce ruling when the Supreme Court ordered Mr Prest’s companies to transfer to her a number of properties, including the family home, as part of her lump-sum award. The decision has been widely reported as clashing with company law and its well-established concept of the ‘corporate veil’.

The couple married in 1993 and spent most of their married life living in London. They had four children and enjoyed an opulent lifestyle with properties in London, the Caribbean and Nigeria. Mr Prest conducted his oil business through a series of companies collectively known as ‘the Petrodel Group’, all registered offshore.

The marriage broke down in 2008 and Mrs Prest petitioned for divorce and applied for financial relief. The High Court ordered Mr Prest to pay his wife a lump sum of £17.5m…

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