Tycoon's Divorce case focuses on downloaded files

When Elizabeth Tchenguiz Imerman filed for divorce in 2008 from her husband Vivian Imerman, the Del Monte foods tycoon and former owner of the whisky distiller Whyte & Mackay, she commented that she wanted an amicable divorce for the sake of her daughter.

Her husband recalling the £250,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom which she had been using, as well as some other water under the bridge, has lead to the sensational twist of Ms Tchenguiz obtaining sensitive information about Mr Imermans finances from his computer.

It is thought the information, said to include details of Mr Imerman’s UK tax affairs, bank statements, e-mails to financial advisers and credit-card statements, was downloaded by one of Ms Tchenguiz’s brothers, or by others on their behalf, from a computer in an office that was formerly shared by Mr Imerman and Ms Tchenguiz's brothers before they threw him out. When printed out the information filled seven lever-arch files.

While the judge ruled that the information should be returned to Mr Imerman, Justice Moylan ruled that Ms Tchenguiz and her advisers could use the material, as they had had possession and knowledge of it for a substantial period and so its use would be of limited prejudice to Mr Imerman.

The case will go to the Court of appeal focusing on how spouses obtain sensitive financial information. While any document left lying around a couple’s home can be copied and used in financial proceedings arising from divorce, documents obtained by force are not admissible. The decision will be awaiting anxiously by family law solicitors who have requested clarification on the matter, especially when electronic information is involved.

Interestingly, it is said that both parties had in fact signed a pre-nuptial agreement before they married, in which they agreed to both hold on to their own assets in the event of a divorce as both are independently wealthy.

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