An oath made in Court cannot be broken without retribution, as the following case shows where an accountant was given a 12-month prison sentence because he had forged his late mother’s Will to inherit her interests in a family business which was worth £160 million.
The original Will had named the man’s brother as the only beneficiary and he was also the only executor, however the man who was 65, was a highly regarded professional and an arbitrator claimed there was a later Will in which he inherited the £40 million share of the business of a palm oil plantation.
The brother challenged this Will and it was discovered that the accountant had lied under oath when giving evidence, as well as interfering with legal paperwork, and that the new Will was forged. Detailed examination of the Will showed that the woman had, as she commonly did in business matters, signed a sheet of paper that was blank. This enabled the man to write the Will above the signature. The accountant was also ordered to pay £1.3 million in legal costs. The judge found that the earlier Will had correctly been admitted to Probate.
The accountant’s brother made an application to the High Court for the contempt of court charges and the court took a dim view and acknowledged that the man had already been punished by the court costs and that the damage to his professional and personal reputation had ruined him. They felt that the only effective punishment to reflect how serious the contempt was and as a deterrent to anyone else, was an immediate prison sentence of 12 months.
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