Multi-millionaire pleaded poverty to avoid legal costs - Kent Online

Summary

A controversial landlord who tried to get out of paying legal costs totalling £250,000 by selling off houses, has been served with a permanent freezing injunction to stop him.

On Monday, Ashford Borough Council (ABC) secured the injunction in the High Court against property mogul Fergus Wilson, which stops him from disposing of assets, including five properties he owns in Ashford.

A controversial landlord who tried to get out of paying legal costs totalling £250,000 by selling off houses, has been served with a permanent freezing injunction to stop him.

On Monday, Ashford Borough Council (ABC) secured the injunction in the High Court against property mogul Fergus Wilson, which stops him from disposing of assets, including five properties he owns in Ashford.

Fergus Wilson. Picture: Matthew Walker

It comes after the multi-millionaire was ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds in costs to a council last month after he subjected employees to a "decade of harassment".

After losing a High Court battle, he was slapped with a permanent injunction last year, preventing him from contacting Ashford council.

Mr Wilson, a buy-to-let landlord from Maidstone, repeatedly instructed councillors to kill themselves, and sent huge numbers of unsolicited letters and emails.

The council then took further legal action because Mr Wilson defaulted on three court judgements relating to the payment of legal costs.

The multi-millionaire claimed he had no money and was unable to pay.

Excerpts from a letter Mr Wilson wrote to Cllr Clarkson's home address

Mr Wilson and his wife began rapidly disposing of their assets and the council believed there was a risk that the costs orders of the court will go unsatisfied, and that future orders would be frustrated if a Freezing Injunction was not made.

In its application to the court, the council said that while Mr Wilson portrays himself in the press as one of the wealthiest men in Britain, owning a large portfolio of rental properties, to the council and the court he claims he is a pensioner with little or no wealth, income or assets.

He claims all the properties and assets are owned by his wife.

During previous court proceedings, Mr Wilson has made repeated references to selling properties and investigations by the council shows that the couple have generated gross sale proceeds of £40.4 million from the sale of 166 properties in recent years, with over £35 million of that in the past two years.

The council was concerned Mr Wilson was planning to avoid paying court costs and was making himself immune from enforcement action by selling all his properties and transferring all his assets out of his own name.

"I think that there is a very high chance that you are pretending to the court that you have no assets ...”

As a result, the council has identified five properties in Ashford registered in his name and the Freezing Order prevents him from disposing of them.

The High Court heard that, when faced with possible enforcement action, Mr Wilson obtained a debt moratorium by appearing to give false information to ‘judgement proof’ himself.

In exchanges, the Judge asked Mr Wilson about a statement he made in a letter to the council where he said: “I take more annually in salary and capital gain than the entire salary bill of Ashford Borough Council”.

Mr David Lock QC, sitting as a Deputy Judge of the High Court, asked: “When you made the statement, was it true?”

Mr Wilson, who chose to represent himself, said: “No, it was not true.”

Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader Ashford Council

Addressing court costs he has previously been ordered to pay the council but defaulted on, Mr Wilson told the court: “I do not have it... I have no money to pay.”

While properties were found to be in his name, Mr Wilson indicated that he had not known about them and they had been fraudulently put in his name when in fact they belong to his wife.

Mr Wilson told the court: “I should explain the investor is my wife, Judith Wilson, and not myself. I actually own no property and have never been a landlord.”

Mr Lock told Mr Wilson: “I think that there is a very high chance that you are pretending to the court that you have no assets.”

The council successfully applied for the Freezing Order to be made permanent.

Mr Wilson was ordered not to remove from England and Wales any of his assets up to the value of £250,000, or in any way dispose of, deal with or diminish the value of any of his assets up to the same value.

In addition, Mr Lock ordered Mr Wilson, within 14 working days, to swear and serve on ABC an affidavit setting out all his assets in England and Wales, whether in his own name or not and whether solely or jointly owned, giving the value, location and details of all such assets.

Mr Wilson was told the order would cease to have effect if he paid £250,000 to the Council within 14 days.

The court also approved interim charging orders on two of his properties.

Mr Wilson has also been ordered to pay for the Freezing Injunction application which costs £20,000 and must be paid by 4pm on June 27.

Once Mr Lock handed down the judgment, Mr Wilson stated that his wife Mrs Judith Wilson will pay £250,000 to the council.

The council was not seeking damages but wants to end the campaign of harassment it has described as ' relentless'.

Multi-millionaire pleaded poverty to avoid legal costs - Kent Online
Photo Credit: Kent Online

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