Bil­lion­aire’s char­ity must pay £277m to foun­da­tion run by ex-wife, Supreme Court rules

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - Michael O’Dwyer By

A CHAR­ITY founded by one of Bri­tain’s rich­est men has been or­dered to pay $360m (£277m) to his ex-wife’s phil­an­thropic or­gan­i­sa­tion in a land­mark rul­ing by the Supreme Court.

Sir Chris Hohn’s or­gan­i­sa­tion, The Chil­dren’s In­vest­ment Fund Foun­da­tion,

has been told to hand over the cash to a new char­ity run by Jamie Cooper, who was awarded the big­gest di­vorce pay­ment in English le­gal his­tory when they split six years ago.

The pair agreed to trans­fer the money to Big Win Phi­lan­thropy, a char­ity set up by Ms Cooper, an Amer­i­can, on con­di­tion that she re­signed as a

CIFF trustee. Both then re­cused them­selves from a for­mal vote on trans­fer­ring the cash, leav­ing it up to the fi­nal board mem­ber, Marko Le­hti­maki, a friend of hedge fund boss Sir Chris, to de­cide what to do.

Mr Le­hti­maki pre­vi­ously said he would not al­low the friend­ship to af­fect his de­ci­sion. A pro­tracted le­gal wran­gle then en­sued over whether he had the power to block the deal.

An ini­tial High Court de­ci­sion in Ms Cooper’s favour was over­turned in the Court of Ap­peal, only for that judg­ment it­self to be over­ruled by the Supreme Court.

Matthew Dontzin, Ms Cooper’s lawyer, said the Supreme Court rul­ing was a “com­plete vic­tory” for his client. Sir Chris, who is worth an es­ti­mated £1.3bn and re­ferred to him­self as an “un­be­liev­able mon­ey­maker” dur­ing the cou­ple’s di­vorce pro­ceed­ings, runs TCI Fund Man­age­ment.

The son of a Ja­maican car me­chanic, he is Bri­tain’s ninth-big­gest tax­payer and handed an es­ti­mated £58m to the

Ex­che­quer last year, ac­cord­ing to The

Sun­day Times Tax List.

Sir Chris, who has given £200,000 to Ex­tinc­tion Re­bel­lion, de­spite be­ing a ma­jor share­holder in the owner of Heathrow Air­port, is well known in the City as an ag­gres­sive ac­tivist in­vestor. TCI was the world’s best-per­form­ing ma­jor hedge fund last year.

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