The multi-millionaire watch tycoon who owns Sekonda is being sued in London’s High Court by his younger brother over allegations he has hidden ‘millions’ of their father’s fortune from his sibling for decades.
Stephen Margulies has accused his brother Marcus Margulies, whose company Time Products (UK) Ltd owns watch brand Sekonda as well as Accurist, of concealing at least £1.5million which their father Alexander Margulies had intended would go to him.
Alexander, who set up the family watch empire after coming to Britain as an immigrant from Poland in 1931, left behind a ‘substantial’ sum following his death in the early 1990s.
For the past 30 years, the brothers have fought over the fortune in a series of court clashes which Stephen’s lawyers insist were largely caused by Marcus’ alleged attempts to ‘disentitle’ his brother.
Marcus, who was worth £135million according to 2018’s Times Rich List, is now being sued by Stephen.
In documents lodged with the High Court, Stephen’s lawyers say that Marcus, 79, was the sole beneficiary of Alexander’s estate under a will that he made in 1982 whilst ‘annoyed’ with Stephen, who had gone to live in Peru rather than join the family business.
Stephen claims that an unknown sum was earmarked for him by his father and held in a Swiss bank account before the pair fell out. He says his share of the Swiss money was put into Marcus’ control to hold in trust for him while Alexander was ill in his final years.
However, he insists that his father never changed his intention for that money to go to him, and that he and Alexander reconciled after the younger brother left South America.
Marcus Margulies, whose company Time Products (UK) Ltd owns Britain’s biggest-selling watch brand Sekonda as well as Accurist
His lawyers said that by 1988, three years before Alexander died, their relationship was ‘warm’.
The younger brother claims Marcus has hidden the money in a secret offshore trust called Dulwich Inc, and is now suing him in a bid to force him to reveal the value of the money in the account, what happened to it and to pay it or its current value to him.
He has accused Marcus of ‘lies, concealment of documents, deception of the court, and abuse of [power]’.
Stephen’s lawyers say: ‘Though Marcus was made Alexander’s sole residual beneficiary under his will of 1982, it was not Alexander’s intention for this to have the practical effect of cutting Stephen out from his share of the Swiss monies’.
Stephen says his siblings ‘received substantial sums of money’ – at least £1.5million each – in 1976 from the Swiss account and that his father intended him to get an equal sum.
At the time, Alexander had been worried about him having so much money due to ‘concerns’ about his ‘lifestyle and general attitude to life,’ Stephen’s lawyers say in court filings.
‘Stephen infers [that he]… did not receive such a gift in 1976 because of Alexander’s concern about Stephen’s ability at that time to handle his wealth,’ his lawyers say, adding that his father had ‘disapproved’ of him having moved to Peru.
But by 1988, they pair had made up, Stephen’s lawyers say, adding that Alexander told Stephen in a letter: ‘I was annoyed with you because I thought that if you had been here and in the business maybe we could have avoided a lot of worries.
‘You understand me much better than I ever thought. Let bygones be bygones… let’s start afresh’.
Alexander Margulies, who set up the family watch empire after coming to Britain as an immigrant from Poland in 1931
Alexander also gave Stephen his mother’s diamond engagement ring when he told him he was going to marry, his lawyers say.
‘Marcus, in Alexander’s elderly years, in order to avoid frequent conflicts with his father and to have what he thought was a good relationship with his father, chose to agree with what Alexander said and thereafter proceed to do exactly what he, not his father, wanted,’ Stephen’s lawyers say.
‘Over the last 20 years, Stephen has gone to very great lengths in an attempt to uncover the true position in respect of dealings with the Swiss accounts or assets whose value is derived therefrom and the extent of Stephen’s interest in the same’.
The younger brother claims that, after a 20-year worldwide investigation, he can now prove that Marcus hid potentially millions that he was entitled to.
The investigations involved multiple trips to the British Virgin Islands, Mexico, US, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the UK in relation to a BVI company called Dulwich Inc which were ‘complex, costly and necessarily very time-consuming in circumstances where Marcus denied any knowledge of Dulwich Inc,’ his lawyers say.
Stephen beat his older brother Marcus in a court fight over their mother Stella’s share of the family wealth in 1993 when a judge declared in favour of a 1971 will – meaning her money was shared equally between the brothers and their sister Judith Sacerdoti.
Marcus had argued Stella died intestate, meaning all her wealth would have gone to husband Alexander and then to Marcus as sole beneficiary under Alexander’s 1982 will.
A further row then erupted between the brothers over which of their parents had owned their valuable art collection, with Marcus claiming it all belonged to their father.
That fight was eventually settled, with 56.5% of the collection going to Alexander’s estate and 43.5% into Stella’s.
Stephen also then sued and won over a family settlement that would have solely benefited his brother.
However, he lost a further court fight to prove that Marcus was holding a third of their father’s wealth for him on trust.
Marcus’ defence to the action was not available from the court at the time of writing. When contacted his representatives declined to comment on the case.