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Jan 07

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ENGLAND – Ford Tycoon makes legal history as he is jailed for two years for hiding money from former wife in divorce battle

  • David Thursfield, 67, is a wanted man after a High Court judge sentenced him in his absence to two years’ jail  for failing to disclose his alleged hidden wealth
  • Lawyers say the prison term will serve as a stark warning to husbands who try to stop their ex-partners sharing their riches

 

A tycoon accused of hiding a multi-million-pound fortune from his former wife in an acrimonious divorce battle has been sentenced to two years in jail.

Lawyers say the prison term, the longest of its kind, will serve as a stark warning to husbands who defy the courts in an effort to stop their ex-partners sharing their riches.

The man at the centre of the case is David Thursfield, a 67-year-old cigar-chomping former boss at the Ford motor company.

He was nicknamed Darth Vader by colleagues for his role in closing Ford’s Dagenham factory in 2002.

Tycoon: David Thursfield, pictured with his third wife Rachel, was sentenced to two years in jail for hiding his fortune during a divorce rowTycoon: David Thursfield, pictured with his third wife Rachel, was sentenced to two years in jail for hiding his fortune during a divorce row

His fearsome reputation for cost-cutting helped him earn a salary of up to £1.2 million a year and a jet-set lifestyle which included the use of a string of luxury properties in exotic locations around the world.

But he is now a wanted man after a High Court judge sentenced him in his absence to two years’ jail  for ‘a continuing failure’ to disclose his alleged hidden wealth in a case which his ex-wife of 27 years brought against him.

Last night Mr Thursfield’s ex-wife Linda, 61, a British-born dental  surgeon, blamed the break-up of the marriage on her husband’s interest in Rachel Measures, 40, whom he married after their divorce settlement was finalised in 2005.

Speaking from her home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, she said: ‘I’d moved all over the world with David and I’d given up my profession for him. It was like I’d passed my expiration date and he was trading me in for a younger model.’

The Thursfields met when he  was a plant manager with British  Leyland in the Midlands in the  Seventies.

The couple married in Birmingham and during his career he landed top jobs in Australia, Spain, Essex, Germany and the US.
Linda Thursfield, 61, blamed her marriage break-up on her husband¿s interest in Rachel Measures, 40

Linda Thursfield, 61, blamed her marriage break-up on her husband’s interest in Rachel Measures, 40

Mrs Thursfield filed for divorce in the US while her husband was based at Ford’s Detroit headquarters. In 2005 she agreed a cash settlement of £1.1 million and their heavily mortgaged mansion in a Detroit suburb.

Mr Thursfield was awarded a grand property named Prospect House in Cheltenham, which he has since sold for £1.6 million.
After the settlement Mrs Thursfield hired private detectives and a forensic accountant to track her husband’s alleged wealth to a bank account in Switzerland and a family trust fund which, allegedly, is being used to control his fortune for the benefit of his third and latest wife.
In 2011, Mrs Thursfield took her case to the High Court where she successfully obtained a freezing order against her husband – to stop him disposing of his property or money.
She was entitled to sue in this country because the High Court agreed there was sufficient relationship between Mr Thursfield and his assets and British jurisdiction.
Mr Thursfield was deemed to have breached the High Court judge’s order to disclose details of his alleged wealth.
In the legal proceedings it was claimed that he had recently been given £3.5 million in payments  from one of his former employers, Cerberus Capital Management, a New York private equity firm.
Mrs Thursfield’s investigators said that he also bought a £1.5 million property in an exclusive Bahamas harbour-front development called the Ocean Club – where scenes from the James Bond movie Casino Royale were filmed.
But Mr Thursfield told the court he was now ‘virtually penniless’ and said the £31,000 cost of his third wedding and £118,000 in school and university fees for the daughter he had with Linda had contributed to his fall from riches to rags.
He also claimed the running costs of the property in the Bahamas between 2005 and 2010 were £200,000.
Asset: The house in Cheltenham the tycoon kept in the settlementAsset: The house in Cheltenham the tycoon kept in the settlement

According to the High Court judgment, when he was asked in 2009 by a Michigan court about reasons for ‘strange dealings’ with a £2.5 million loan deposited into a Swiss bank account, he said: ‘Because I did not want to be encumbered by you people and constrained on what I do with any of the money that I earned or borrowed. It becomes tiresome when you meddle in my affairs.’

High Court Judge Charles Purle QC ruled that Mr Thursfield ‘deliberately refused to say what had happened’ to the £3.5 million from Cerberus.

The judge added that ‘millions of dollars appears to have vanished  . . .  I am satisfied that the husband is deliberately refusing to reveal what happened to it.’

Ruling that Mr Thursfield was in contempt of court, the judge said he was imposing a punitive sentence ‘as a coercive measure in order to encourage full and prompt compliance hereafter’.

Last night Amanda McAlister, a family law expert at international law firm Slater & Gordon, said: ‘This judgment undoubtedly will send shivers up the spine of husbands  and wives whose strategy is to  hide assets.’

Last night a spokesman for Mr Thursfield said: ‘David is appealing [against the prison sentence] and maintains that the original settlement was more than adequate.’

 

SOURCE: Daily Mail

Permanent link to this article: http://operationfatherhood.org/family-law-private/divorce-2/england-ford-tycoon-makes-legal-history-as-he-is-jailed-for-two-years-for-hiding-money-from-former-wife-in-divorce-battle/