Isle Of Man’s Archaic Insolvency Laws Must Change, Says Deemster

A deemster has criticised the island’s ‘archaic and confusing’ insolvency laws, Isle of Man Today reported. Deemster Alan Gough made the comments as he delivered judgment in the case of a company owned by a Nigerian oil tycoon whose high profile divorce case made headlines worldwide. Michael Prest, 50, once said to be worth £40m and named as one of the most influential black businessman in Britain, attempted to avoid paying his ex-wife a £17.5m divorce settlement by claiming that assets held in his Isle of Man-registered oil company Petrodel Resources were not personally owned by him. But after a lengthy legal battle, the Supreme Court last year ruled in favour of the businessman’s ex-wife Yasmin, 49, who was born in England but grew up on the Isle of Man. In July this year, Mr Prest was handed a four-week jail term suspended for three months for failing to pay £360,000 in unpaid maintenance to his ex-wife and their four children. Following the Supreme Court ruling, Petrodel Resources Limited (PRL) was placed into liquidation. In legal proceedings against the liquidator, this time in the high court in Douglas, Mr Prest is seeking the return of assets in PRL he claims are held in trust for him. Ruling on a separate issue, Deemster Gough granted the liquidator sanction to appoint advocates to assist him in his duties. In his judgment, the deemster said:‘I proffer a general comment on the archaic statutory provisions and rules which govern insolvency in the Isle of Man. ‘These provisions are out of date, confusing and much in need of revision to accommodate the type of business the island presently conducts and hopes to attract as it moves forward in the 21st century.