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Ex-banker using tiger fund to hide money from wife - judge

Dec 21 2018 17:54
Jonathan Browning, Bloomberg

A former Deutsche Bank executive was chastised by a UK judge, who said he believed that the banker may have been using his tiger-conservation charity for his own personal benefit in a long-running and bitter divorce.

Stuart Bray and his wife, Li Quan, have been fighting over about £50m held by a trust linked to Save China’s Tigers, the charity they founded in 2000. Bray must make maintenance payments of £5 300 a month pending an award of a lump sum, the judge said.

While neither the husband nor wife were beneficiaries of the trust, it didn’t mean that Bray couldn’t be paid for his services, the judge.

"The husband, in collusion" with the trust, "is seeking to hide something highly material in the finances of the trust, which if revealed, would be significantly to his disadvantage," Judge Nicholas Mostyn said in his ruling. He suggested Bray "has arranged for his commercial award to be deferred until these proceedings are safely concluded."

The former banker had won earlier UK rulings that the charity was solely used to fund a breeding program at his reserve in South Africa for the nearly-extinct Chinese tigers. Quan filed for divorce in 2012.

But he was criticised in the judgment on Thursday for making "childish and facetious" comments in the hearings. At one point Bray said he "might be able to make money as a drug dealer" on account of his expertise in chemistry. He said his senior chemistry project was the "synthesis of cocaine."

Quan’s lawyer said she had been vindicated. "Li is the champion of Chinese tigers, but unlike tigers, she has not had to fight her battles alone," Ayesha Vardag said. "After six long years, she has achieved both vindication and justice."

Bray, who is representing himself, didn’t return a call and messages seeking comment.

Bray joined Deutsche Bank when it bought his unit of Bankers Trust in 1999. He worked as co-head of a department that dealt with client tax transactions before leaving in 2001, according to a 2009 preliminary ruling in his libel case against the lender.

Bray sued Deutsche Bank for libel after leaving his position as co-head of a tax department in 2001. He settled the case for about £20m and used the money to help fund the charity, Li told the court in December.

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