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Court Demands Exec Abide by Divorce Settlement Interest Clause

By all accounts, Barry Dougan -- the chief executive of the Credit Suisse Group -- is a very smart, successful and eminently sophisticated business executive, and that is exactly how the Connecticut Supreme Court chose to regard him in its recent ruling concerning the high-asset property division dispute between Dougan and his former spouse, Tomoko Hamada Dougan.

The ruling puts an end to the couple's long slog through the Connecticut court system regarding a matter in which the initial trial court held in favor of Dougan, with the state Appellate Court reversing in favor of his ex-wife. The state's highest court affirmed the appellate decision last week.

The case involved a divorce settlement executed in June 2005 that required Dougan to pay his former spouse $7.5 million in June 2006, along with a 10 percent interest payment dating back to the date of the agreement in the event that Dougan was late with the payment.

He was late, but not by much. When Tomoko Hamada Dougan got her check 12 days after the day stipulated to in the agreement, it came with an additional $25,000 sent by Dougan as interest for his tardiness. That set off the dispute, with his ex-wife demanding the entire $750,000.

The Supreme Court held that she is entitled to it, rejecting Dougan's contention that the provision providing for the payment was a penalty clause that was unenforceable.

That argument did not sit well with the court, who found that Dougan was "financially sophisticated" and willingly agreed to the provision when he signed the agreement.

"By now asking the court to refuse to enforce the provision, the plaintiff is taking a position clearly inconsistent with his previous position," stated the court's ruling.

The case may not yet be completely over, since Dougan is now five years late with the required interest payment. His former wife is demanding that he pay interest on the late interest, as well.

Related Resource: Associated Press, "Credit Suisse CEO owes ex $750K for late payment" June 27, 2011

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