A former Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) manager denied using a tiger conservation charity for his personal benefit at a divorce hearing in a London court.
Stuart Bray’s wife Li Quan said last year the couple had used a trust linked to Save China’s Tigers to shelter funds while they spent its money maintaining an expensive lifestyle.
The trust had no purpose other than to help the charity, and wasn’t for his or Li’s benefit, Bray said in court today. He denied trying to hide assets from the U.S. tax authorities after renouncing his American citizenship in 2009.
“I wouldn’t do something like that,” Bray said.
Bray and Li are fighting over as much as 50 million pounds ($85 million) held by the charity they founded in 2000 to breed rare Asian big cats in captivity so they could be returned to the wild in China. It’s the latest in a series of high-profile divorce cases involving wealthy businessmen to be heard in London, which U.K. Court of Appeal judges have called the divorce capital of the world.
Bray described himself as a conservationist, who wanted to use his knowledge of structured finance to set up profitable investments in order to fund the tiger-breeding program. He described plans to borrow about $4 billion, using $3 billion to buy forestry assets in China, and $1 billion to buy “a portfolio of marketable securities.” He said the cash flow from the investments, after making repayments on the debt, would go to the charity.
Bray said the South China tiger was “facing imminent extinction” and “we make big bets because if the bets pay off, you have the money to save them.”
He said he had discussed the plans with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS:US), Deutsche Bank and the Chinese government without saying whether he had been able to finalize any deals.
“The business was run to generate profit to benefit the tiger project,” Bray said. He said his advisory firm would get fees if the investments were profitable, and he would be paid a salary and a bonus.
Bray sued Deutsche Bank for libel after leaving his position as co-head of a tax department 2001. He settled the case for about 20 million pounds and used the money to help fund the charity, Li told the court in December. Richard Harrison, a lawyer for Save China’s Tigers, told the court yesterday that Deutsche Bank’s donation had already been spent on running the charity.
Save China’s Tigers, which counted actor Jackie Chan as an ambassador, plans to establish nature reserves in China for tigers bred in captivity in Africa.
To contact the reporter on this story: Kit Chellel in London at firstname.lastname@example.org
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