Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

#Bizarre: Investment Banker husband claimed wedding was a "SHAM" to stop wife filing for divorce

A wealthy Indian banker claimed that his marriage was a "sham" in order to avoid becoming embroiled in an expensive divorce, the Court of Appeal in London has heard.

Former UBS employee Amit Goyal, who had met his HR manager wife Ankita on Shaadi.com, told judges that "another Amit Goyal" had stood in for him at the 2003 marriage ceremony in Meerut and that the union had never taken place.

As a result the 36-year-old claimed that his wife of eight years - and mother of his six-year-old daughter - could neither divorce him nor claim financial support from him.

Mr Goyal also claimed that he is in debt to the tune of more than £300,000 despite earning £185,000 per annum plus bonuses before being made redundant by the Swiss banking giant.

However, Judge Mark Everall QC granted Mrs Goyal the right to pursue divorce proceedings against her husband, describing Mr Goyal as "there was a valid marriage between the couple".

Judge Everall also described Mr Goyal as an "unreliable" witness.

The court heard that Mr Goyal, who had worked in London 2002, had met Ankita through the popular matrimonial site www.shaadi.com in 2003 and became engaged soon after during a short visit to India.

"Mrs Goyal and her parents were happy to go along with the plan.  Mr Goyal was a well-educated young man with evidently good prospects in the well-paid world of international finance," Judge Everall said in his ruling.

A marriage registration took place prior to the main wedding so that Mrs Goyal could apply for a visa to France after Mr Goyal had decided to pursue an MBA at the famous INSEAD business school in Paris.

However, Mr Goyal asserted that his wife tied the knot with an imposter at Meerut’s luxury Hotel Samrat Heavens, claiming that he had been six hours’ away in his home town, Bathinda, on the morning of the nuptials.

Mr Goyal said this meant his subsequent 'marriage' was invalid - even though the groom’s name on the wedding certificate for the previous ceremony matched his own.

Nevertheless, the couple moved to France and then the UK, settling in Canary Wharf where their daughter was born in 2007.  Their relationship subsequently broke down with Mrs Goyal moving out of the couple's luxury apartment in 2011.

Mr Goyal claimed that he had 'not read the certificate carefully enough' in 2003 and that the first time he noticed the discrepancies in the dates was more than a year after the relationship ended.

Judge Everall heard expert evidence that a photograph, supposedly depicting the groom on the marriage certificate, was not of Mr Goyal, and a thumb print on the document, which was purportedly his, belonged to someone else.

Mr Goyal also claimed that there were virtually no photographs of the ceremonies, an "integral part of Hindu wedding tradition" as he called it.

Nonetheless, the judge said that 'the overwhelming probability on all the evidence is that Mrs Goyal did not marry, and did not intend to marry, a different Amit Goyal on 15th September, 2003.

"Why should she do so? Why should she do this on September 15 and then marry Mr Goyal on September 18 and fly with him to France?" the judge asked.

Mr Goyal was a 'highly educated and intelligent man' who had worked for Barclays, Deutsche Bank and UBS and who was 'precise and careful'.  But the judge said of him: 'I did not find him a satisfactory witness'.

Rejecting his claim that he did not check the marriage papers until long after the split, the judge said his evidence about that was 'unconvincing and implausible'.

Speaking after the hearing, Mrs Goyal said she was 'very happy' at the outcome which would have 'massive implications' for her future.



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