Published June 7, 2008

'Bus driver' who lived in Cairnhill Crest to pay his dues

Former JP Morgan banker spun lies to slash maintenance payments to ex-wife


(SINGAPORE) A high-flying banker based in Singapore tried to tell a UK court that he was too poor to afford maintenance payments for his ex-wife and two children in England. He tried to show that he was jobless and might end up being a bus driver. He applied for the payments to be slashed.

The court has now ruled against Simon Andrew Sywak and, in fact, has increased the maintenance payments.

Mr Sywak said he had lost his job as a hedge fund manager in London and was now living in accommodation that belonged to his new wife's mother in Bromley. He insisted he would not be able to earn more than £pounds;40,000 (S$107,000) a year and there was no way that he could pay a monthly maintenance of about £pounds;2,750 to his ex-wife and two sons.

He said he 'might drive a bus, write a book, go on benefit'. In fact, he said he had applied for a driver's licence.

What Mr Sywak hid from both his ex-wife and the British Court was this: He had already moved to Singapore and taken up a high-paying job with investment bank JP Morgan as vice-president. He was being paid $350,000 a year and living with his new wife in the upmarket Cairnhill Crest. He was sending her children to an international school.

The truth emerged only when the banker was tracked down by a private detective hired by ex-wife Helen Sywak.

'We found out he was living in Cairnhill Circle and working with JP Morgan,' the former Mrs Sywak told BT.

Units in Cairnhill Crest when sold by the developer in 2006 cost an average $3.2 million - at a time when the market was still subdued.

Mr Sywak, who is Australian, stopped paying maintenance to his ex-wife and two sons - now aged eight and 10 - in February last year.

Ironically, it was on Feb 1, 2007, that he took up his new job in Singapore.

Yet, on May 15 last year, he was still claiming that he was living with his mother-in-law and indicating that he was short of funds.

Confronted with his lies he told the Brighton County Court that he did not disclose his employment to his ex-wife as 'she would go to any lengths to destroy my career because she is evil'.

It was then shown in court that far from his circumstances worsening, his salary at JP Morgan had actually increased to $380,000 a year.

At this point, in February this year, Mr Sywak tried to claim that he was thinking of taking up a job in New York that paid only about half of what he earned in Singapore. His new wife told the court that 'she hated Singapore'.

Mr Sywak also tried to throw mud at his ex-wife. He said she was cohabiting with another man who was supporting her financially. The court found no evidence of this.

The court also agreed that she and her children depended almost entirely on the maintenance that they got from Mr Sywak.

'I find the evidence of the Applicant (Mr Sywak) to be totally unreliable and he has been shown to have actively misled the court virtually throughout this current application,' said Judge Paul Gamba.

'He now asks me to accept that he will now relocate to New York. I understand that his new wife does not like Singapore. But to ask me to accept that on relocation he will take a drop of £pounds;5,000 a month in salary when (he claims) he has debts of £pounds;290,000 is just beyond belief and I reject that evidence.'

The judge ordered Mr Sywak to pay arrears of £pounds;30,600 and increased the maintenance payment to £pounds;3,250 a month.

A JP Morgan corporate communications executive told BT that Mr Sywak had resigned since April 21 this year. Calls to Mr Sywak's home number were not answered.

His former wife said he had resumed the monthly payments since March but has yet to pay the arrears.