Eric Watson: Former Kiwi rich-lister appeals four-month jail sentence

New Zealand businessman Eric Watson is appealing a four-month jail sentence handed down in London's High Court.

A High Court judge found the former Kiwi rich-lister in contempt of court for withholding information about his assets from philanthropist Sir Owen Glenn, the latest development in a bitter, two-year legal stoush between the two former co-owners of the Warriors rugby league team.

Watson has now appealed the sentence, according to Newshub's Europe correspondent, Lloyd Burr.

"The Court of Appeal, the High Court and judges have thrown this out and Eric Watson has appealed again. It all comes down to whether or not he withheld information to Sir Owen Glenn," Burr said in a report to The AM Show.

Sir Owen Glenn.
Sir Owen Glenn. Photo credit: File

Earlier in October, the High Court in England and Wales ruled that Watson had committed acts of contempt by failing to comply with court orders.

In 2018, Watson was taken to court by Sir Glenn and Kea Investments over a joint European property venture, Spartan Capital. Following an extensive trial, Watson was declared liable for £43.5 million ($85 million) and interest compounding at 6.5 percent per annum in compensation to Glenn's company, Kea Investments (Kea). He was ordered to pay an interim sum of £25 million ($48.8 million) and an additional £3.8 million ($7.4 million) in costs.

The court found Watson had "planned and orchestrated" a scheme to trick Kea into entering agreements. Kea had invested £129 million into Spartan Capital.

Watson appealed the ruling, which was dismissed by the Court of Appeal in October last year.

Kea later sought three orders of contempt against Watson, arguing he had been "deliberately reticent" to provide information about his assets in a bid to thwart compensation recovery efforts.

In an October 2 decision, Lord Justice Christopher Nugee said it was evident "how blatantly Mr Watson lied to the Court of Appeal" about the state of his assets.

Judge Nugee found Watson guilty of contempt for withholding a statement of transactions from a 'Rainy Day account' in the name of his mother, Joan Pollock.

Formerly one of New Zealand's wealthiest men, Watson now claims to have little money to his name. 

Watson lost a long-running dispute with Inland Revenue in March 2019, with a High Court judge ruling the businessman's companies were liable to pay $51.1 million in back taxes.