A property tycoon who paid for his divorce by defrauding investors after his wife left him for former Arsenal footballer Cesc Fabregas may lose more than £3million in assets.
Elie Taktouk, 49, married Lebanese model Daniella Semaan in 1998 before she left him for the ex-Premier League star Cesc Fabregas 13 years later.
The multimillionaire was later convicted of using £2.5million worth of investors money to fund his own extravagant lifestyle and pay for his divorce.
The fraud saw Taktouk use money meant to cover the cost of renovating a Knightsbridge property to instead pay for shopping sprees in Harrods, a £21,000 a month property in Kensington, and £200,000 worth of legal fees.
Prosecutors are now calling for a probe into the source of Taktouk’s assets in seeking to confiscate £3.2million from the businessman under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Following his divorce, Taktouk previously lost his Belgravia home to his ex-wife and the former Arsenal footballer after he was forced to sell the £5.5million property by the divorce courts.
The multimillionaire had tried to block the sale through the Court of Appeal on the basis the footballer’s £5.5million offer was £2million less than it was worth.
The Grade-II listed property, which lies just metres away from Buckingham Palace, had been put up for sale in 2013, so Taktouk could provide cash in the divorce settlement with his former wife.
Taktouk was subsequently convicted of 11 counts of fraud after property developers Adrian Noël and his father Frank launched a private prosecution against the millionaire tycoon.
The property magnate was found guilty of defrauding the Noël’s out of £2.5million in funds they intended to be used to renovate a £7m Grade-II listed apartment in Ennismore Gardens, Knightsbridge.
Taktouk was later jailed for seven years in 2021 after he tried to kill himself in a hotel on the eve of his sentencing.
The Noëls made an initial investment in order to buy the Knightsbridge property – and then made ten additional investments at Taktouk’s request for works to be done while he was project manager.
But instead of using their investments to help pay for a jacuzzi and other renovations the property developer used the cash to fund his own extravagant lifestyle.
The fraud was uncovered after Taktouk failed to keep up with payments owed to the National Bank of Abu Dhabi.
The fraudulent scheme saw the Noëls lose £2,490,546.69. after their property was seized by the UAE-based bank, court documents show.
Taktouk also faked invoices for a building firm for work that was never done, before attempting to shift the blame onto company boss Joseph Farah, whose reputation was ruined by the false allegations.
Court documents showed Taktouk used more than £200,000 worth of investor funds to pay legal fees relating to his divorce from Ms. Semaan.
He also spent over a million of the Noëls’ money on private school fees for his children Georgio Armani clothes, shopping sprees in Harrods, and expensive furniture.
Taktouk took his case to the Court of Appeal last year after his legal team claimed his convictions were ‘unsafe’ and that his seven year sentence was too long. Three judges, however, ruled Taktouk must complete his prison sentence.
The property magnate, formerly of Cadogan Square, Chelsea, has now returned to Southwark Crown Court for the start of a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Although the fraud was said to amount to £2.5m prosecutor Kennedy Talbot KC, confirmed the ‘benefit figure was agreed to be £3,237,347.’
‘The issue is whether Mr Taktouk can show there is a limit to his assets,’ the prosecutor said. ‘The defence case is that all the sums came to him from a legitimate source.’
He noted that while Taktouk’s father Youssef ‘sadly died’ on 10 April this year, the property magnate has failed to hand over a copy of his will. ‘Still now we don’t have copy of the will it’s something that is still promised,’ said Mr Talbot.
Mr. Talbot told Judge Alexander Milne: ‘If your honour made a confiscation order in reference to Mr. Taktouk there will be some sort of multiple recovery.
‘Where did the money originally come from? There is an assertion it came from family wealth but unless there is evidence how this money came about and how it was transferred.
‘So far as we can tell there is very little by documentary material to support Mr Taktouk’s case.
‘Until February his year Mr. Taktouk has always said that is where the wealth is to be found, in the family, in the shares in Wolseley Investments Ltd for a number of different commercial interests and those stakes have been made not only to the bank, but in these very proceedings, in these restraints and confiscation proceedings.’
Taktouk previously collapsed in court when he was jailed for seven months in July 2020 for disregarding court orders preventing him from buying plane tickets out of the country and obstructing an investigation into his assets.
He was also discovered to have relied on false documents during his matrimonial proceedings.
The Taktouk family is said to be worth approximately £150m and boasts a variety of business interests in Nigeria and Lebanon in transport, flour mills, insurance, and property.
The confiscation hearing was adjourned until 9 August.