Property tycoon pleads for time to raise legal funds
NICHOLAS van Hoogstraten, a property tycoon whose personal wealth was once estimated at £500 million, yesterday pleaded with judges to allow him more time to raise money to fund a court action.
Mr van Hoogstraten, 59, was sentenced to ten years in 2002 for the manslaughter of a businessman, Mohammed Raja, but was cleared at the criminal Court of Appeal last year.
He is challenging a series of orders involving Mr Raja, whose family continued a legal action over property and lost rentals valued at 5 million, which they say Mr van Hoogstraten appropriated.
The family won its case in December 2002, when the High Court judge, Peter Smith, struck off the defence because of Mr van Hoogstraten’s failure to disclose his assets and abuse of the court process.
The judge also imposed massive contempt of court fines on Mr van Hoogstraten for failing to disclose details of his wealth, with orders freezing his assets and confiscation of property.
In the Court of Appeal yesterday, Lord Justice Pill, Lord Justice Chadwick and Lord Justice May heard from Alastair Walton, counsel for the sequestrators, that Mr van Hoogstraten’s fines for failing to disclose wealth now amount to more than 3 million.
Mr Walton said he would not challenge any application for an adjournment but pointed out that every week of delay meant another 50,000 fine for Mr van Hoogstraten.
Today should have been the start of Mr van Hoogstraten’s five-day appeal over the civil action brought by the family of the man who was shot dead in July 1999 at his home in Sutton, Surrey, by two men identified at the Old Bailey criminal trial as van Hoogstraten henchmen.
Mr van Hoogstraten asked the judges for time "to obtain funds to appoint counsel and solicitors" for the action.
At a recent hearing he was given the go-ahead to sell properties in Brighton worth about 700,000.
He told the judges yesterday: "This whole case is a disgrace and ought never to have got off the ground."
He said he had not found lawyers for the civil appeal because he had been more concerned with his appeal against manslaughter to regain his freedom.
"The important thing was to get me out of Belmarsh [maximum security prison] and get my conviction overturned."
Peter Irvin, representing the Raja family, said the civil case had a history of attempts by Mr van Hoogstraten to seek adjournments to seek funds.
"Mr Hoogstraten works in unconventional ways, if I can put it as politely as I can. These are clearly delaying tactics."
Mr Irvin claimed Mr van Hoogstraten was trying to delay the case as long as possible so that his assets could be used "to secure a comfortable future".
He added: "Everything has the hallmarks of deliberate delay. It is all Micawberesque, delaying until the day something will turn up."
He said Mr van Hoogstraten was hoping the Raja family would run out of money to pursue him in the courts.
The appeal judges asked Mr van Hoogstraten to bring lawyers to court to confirm that they were willing to act for him before they would grant an adjournment.
The hearing was adjourned until today.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North