A former Deutsche Bank AG executive’s wife said he used their animal conservation charity to hide assets while she spent the group’s money on furniture and expensive meals.
Stuart Bray and his wife, Li Quan, are fighting over about 50 million pounds ($81 million) of assets held by Save China’s Tigers, which they founded in 2000, in their divorce case in London.
The former banker used a trust connected to the charity as “shelter” for their personal wealth, Li said at a hearing in the case this morning. Bray, who left the German lender in 2001, said outside court that “what she is now saying is untrue.” Lawyers representing the charity declined to comment.
Court rulings favoring less wealthy partners led a U.K. appeals court to call London the “divorce capital of the world for aspiring wives” in 2007. Oil trader Michael Prest, accused by his ex-wife of hiding assets in offshore companies, is facing jail after the U.K.’s Supreme Court ruled against him in June.
Li’s evidence suggested she and Bray were defrauding the charity “on a grand and big scale,” Judge Paul Coleridge said to her at the hearing. “It was incredibly dishonest.”
Li said she had tried to ensure donations were spent on charitable projects, and the couple had used trusts to store their own assets.
“I bought furniture,” she said. “We had expensive dinners. We had expensive wines.”
She denied committing fraud and said she had no detailed knowledge of the organization’s financial affairs.
“I intensely hope to continue my work” with tigers, she said.
Save China’s Tigers, which counted actor Jackie Chan as an ambassador, planned to establish nature reserves in China for tigers bred in captivity in Africa.
Bray joined Deutsche Bank when it bought his unit of Bankers Trust Corp. 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 the Frankfurt-based lender in 2007 after it made public statements about losses resulting from a U.S. tax probe into his former unit. There is no record of a verdict in the case in an online database of U.K. court judgments. Kathryn Hanes, a spokeswoman for Deutsche Bank, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
Li told the court Bray had used a settlement with Deutsche Bank to help fund their charity. Her lawyers declined to comment outside court.