Prominent Kiwi Businessman Sir Owen Glenn is claiming victory after a long-running legal dispute with fellow rich-lister and former business partner Eric Watson.
A 376-page judgement out today follows one of the most complex and high-stakes business cases ever seen between two New Zealanders, involving nearly a million documents and a 12-week trial in the Chancery Division of the London High Court last year.
The case dates back to 2014, when a high court document out of the British Virgin Islands revealed Sir Owen and Mr Watson had gone into a joint European property venture called Spartan Capital.
Today's ruling said Sir Owen had put a total of £129 million (around $250m) – in three installments - into Project Spartan via a company known as Kea Investments Ltd.
He then felt his arrangement with Mr Watson, who was claiming a 50-50 shareholding on that capital, was unfair.
Mr Justice Nugee found that Mr Watson had secured Sir Owen's initial investment by fraudulent misrepresentation, describing it as "a deceit planned and orchestrated by Mr Watson".
The judge also questioned Mr Watson's credibility during some evidence saying: "I had the distinct impression when he was giving that evidence that he was not misremembering, but was deliberately covering up the truth".
In a statement to 1 NEWS this morning, Mr Watson said he has already instructed his legal team to file an urgent appeal – saying the fight “is by no means over”.
“Whilst I respect the judge’s conclusions, my new legal team and I do not agree with them all. We are pleased we won a portion of the case, but it’s fair to say overall I am disappointed. I have asked my legal team to file an urgent appeal covering the areas of disagreement,” he said.
“It is however, unfortunate and regrettable but worth noting, that what I recognised to be a highly valuable business opportunity, and which proved to generate significant returns for its shareholders, in a very short space of time, has come before the courts. The economic potential of the venture and the social benefit it offered, in particular, was immense and sadly this has been lost.
“This is by no means over and I look forward to success in the course of time.”
Sir Owen has already been awarded a $220 million (NZD) settlement from his High Court war with Mr Watson, however Sir Owen says this has not fully been paid yet.
The 78-year-old, who is battling cancer said: "I regard this judgment as a complete vindication of my position in this complex and long-running litigation. Eric Watson has behaved appallingly. I saw him as a close friend but he was trying to rip me off. Once I knew what had happened I was determined to get justice."
Sir Owen's company Kea Investments says it has recovered a large part of the money it invested in Project Spartan and the court has indicated that further sums are recoverable by way of compensation from Mr Watson.
The court will deal with that next month.