A wealthy Singapore neurosurgeon whose “astronaut” family has lived in West Vancouver for the past 15 years has been ordered to pay his ex-wife a stratospheric settlement after a bitter divorce in which he hid over a million dollars worth of global assets, ignored court orders and engaged in “reprehensible conduct” towards both his family, a lawyer and a judge involved in the case, a B.C. Supreme Court justice has ruled.
Neurologist Gobinathan Devathasan, 69, was ordered to hand his ex over $16 million worth of assets, including six properties in North America, as well as pay a $2.3-million “equalization” payment to take into account the greater value of the nine global properties he will keep, worth approximately $21.4 million.
Devathasan was also ordered to make a lump sum payment of $5.5 million in spousal support to his ex-wife Christie Devathasan, a former model and nurse, plus $612,000 in child support for his daughter while she completes an undergraduate degree at university.
While unusual, Justice Geoffrey Gomery wrote in his ruling the lump sum payment order was necessary considering the neurosurgeon’s conduct during the divorce.
For a long time, Devathasan was “utterly unwilling” to acknowledge or fulfill his responsibilities, wrote Gomery, noting Devathasan had stated in May 2017, “I will not pay a dollar for alimony now or till death or whatever any one decrees no matter what,” adding, “I have sworn I will pay with my ashes only.”
As part of the divorce ruling, Gomery itemized misconduct by the neurosurgeon, calling it “richly deserving of rebuke.”
That included transferring the business of his lucrative Singapore clinic into the names of a son living in Australia and a clinic employee - and backdating the transfer - in an attempt to evade the court’s asset-freezing order.
Devathasan also freely moved money in his Singapore bank accounts in breach of the freezing order, and failed to disclose properties in Singapore and Thailand in a sworn affidavit of assets, wrote Gomery.
He also sent correspondence to his daughter’s university calculated to embarrass her, accused his wife’s lawyer of “gross misconduct” and suggested the B.C. Supreme Court justice who made the original asset-freezing order had “spread her legs wide” to his wife’s lawyer, Gomery wrote, adding Devathasan’s “attitude and actions evinced contempt for this court and its processes.”
According to court documents, the couple met in Singapore and married in 1997. In 2003, the family came to Canada through the immigrant investor program after depositing $500,000. But Devathasan decided his work opportunities in Canada “were not at all attractive” and returned to work in Singapore, while his wife and children moved into a large home in West Vancouver. Devathasan would visit several times a year, according to court documents, but the relationship eventually deteriorated and his wife filed for divorce in 2016.
The divorce was remarkable for the stratospheric wealth of the family, Gomery noted, with family assets estimated at between $38 million and $41 million.
Property to be divided in the case included homes and investment properties in multiple jurisdictions, including a West Vancouver mansion valued at over $6 million, a $670,000 apartment at Big White ski resort, a $2.3-million apartment at the Hotel Georgia and a ranch in Merritt worth $1.5 million. It also included a $1.3-million apartment in Toronto, in addition to the ownership of Devathasan’s $8-million Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre in Singapore, and various apartments in Singapore, Florida, Malaysia and Thailand.
The couple also owned a veritable fleet of luxury vehicles, including a 2012 Maserati Gran Cabrio valued at $194,000 and an Audi 8L worth $92,000 that Devathasan kept in Singapore and three cars owned by his wife in Canada, including a 2012 Rolls Royce sedan worth $307,000, a 2015 Range Rover valued at $98,000 and a 2015 Audi RS7 Quattro with a value of $85,000, according to court documents.
Other assets included about $200,000 worth of Persian rugs, and expensive Rolex and Breitling watches owned by the neurosurgeon valued at $160,000.
At one point in 2016, before his wife filed for divorce, the neurosurgeon proposed buying a $2.65-million West Vancouver property with his adult son and paid the $480,000 deposit, according to court documents. To avoid the foreign buyers’ tax, Devathasan formulated a deal to conceal his 50 per cent beneficial ownership in the property. Later, after his wife filed for divorce, Devathasan refused to complete the deal, forfeiting his deposit. As part of the divorce settlement, Gomery included a penalty against Devathasan for wasting family assets.