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Indian-origin African ‘billionaire’ loses UK divorce ruling

London: An Indian-origin businessman, dubbed Africa’s youngest billionaire, has lost a divorce battle in the High Court in London and will have to fork out a considerable amount to his ex-wife as settlement. Ashish Thakkar was accused of lying about his family assets by a UK High Court judge in a ruling made public today.

The 35-year-old and his father and sister had given evidence in court that the UK-born and Dubai-based businessman had no control over Mara Group Holdings and Inspire Group Holdings Ltd, the family’s two main businesses.

“I regret to say that I consider the whole thing to be palpable nonsense. It follows that I find I have been repeatedly lied to by all three respondent Thakkar witnesses, which has extremely serious consequences for the rest of their evidence,” Justice Moor said in his ruling.

A further hearing will now determine how much money Thakkar must pay his former wife Meera Manek, according to ‘The Daily Telegraph’.

The case came to light earlier this month when it emerged that the estranged couple were also fighting over a 160,000-pound ticket on the futuristic Virgin Galactic. Thakkar was among the first to sign up for Richard Branson’s dream project of launching the first commercial flight into space.

The full amount of the tickets is paid upfront but the tickets on Virgin Galactic are fully refundable up until the date of the flight. The court will also determine whether he would have to sell off his ticket to space as part of the upcoming assets hearing.

Manek, a 33-year-old food writer and blogger, had claimed that her estranged husband is the beneficiary of a complex series of companies held offshore while he had alleged his assets were worth just 445,532 pounds.

The couple had married in 2008 but separated in 2013. Financial newswire Bloomberg estimates Thakkar’s fortune at 360 million pounds and ‘The Sunday Times Rich List’ had estimated Thakkar’s wealth at 500 million pounds in 2015.

Thakkar, who made his fortune in IT, banking and property, had argued that the beneficiaries of his companies are his mother and sister, a claim dismissed by the High Court judge as a lie.

He was born in the city of Leicester in the UK and his family were among the thousands of East African Indians who came to the UK after being deported by Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the 1970s. He now lives in Dubai and attends various conferences and events around the world as a high flying entrepreneur.
PTI