How Scot Young's death echoes a string of similar suicides

Scot Young's 'suicide' was the latest in a series of mysterious deaths that connected a group of property investments with murky dealings in Russia.


Mysterious circumstances surround the death of Scot Young

When property tycoon Scot Young moved into a new flat in Marylebone with his American fiance Noelle Reno in July, she said it would be "a happy little home, for our happy little life". The idyll was short-lived, says the Daily Mail.

Last week, Young, 52, was found impaled on railings after a "death plunge" from a fourth-floor apartment. Police have apparently ruled out foul play. He is said to have been "manic": the engagement had been broken; he had mounting money worries.

But given the "mysterious circumstances" surrounding the life and death of this one-time wheeler-dealer in Russia and a spate of strikingly similar suicides in his immediate business circle, including oligarch Boris Berezovsky there are surely grounds for an investigation.

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Before his untimely death, the Scottish-born businessman worth £400m at his peak was best known as a protagonist in one of Britain's most bitter divorce battles. He was jailed for contempt of court last year when a judge, granting his ex-wife Michelle a £20m settlement (none of which has been paid), ruled he had "hidden" his wealth.

Young insisted he was "penniless", with £28m in debt after the collapse of his business empire. He claimed to have been ruined by a murky property deal called Project Moscow, in which Berezovsky, who was found hanged at his Surrey mansion last year, was known to be an investor (see below).

The coincidences don't stop there, says The Daily Telegraph. Two other investors Paul Castle and Robert Curtis also suffered violent ends after throwing themselves under Tube trains in 2010 and 2012.

Last month, a fifth member of their circle Johnny Elichaoff, the former husband of TV presenter Trinny Woodall died after falling from Whiteleys shopping centre in west London. The final member of this "Ring of Death" is lawyer Stephen Curtis, killed in a helicopter crash in 2004, "a week after telling friends that he feared for his life".

This scary world of international deals and sudden death is far removed from "the grey tenement block" in Dundee where Young grew up, says the Evening Standard. "Like so much of his life, little detail is known about the early part of his career."

He was already in property when he met Michelle in 1989, "but had made so little money the couple had to live with her parents in Essex". That changed in the 1990s when "a string of immensely lucrative deals" in property and telecoms "propelled the couple into a rarified world of extreme wealth".

They joined the Monaco set, whose luminariesincluded tycoons Sir Philip Green andSir Tom Hunter; lived in a Palladian mansion in Oxfordshire, where "the weekly shop was delivered directly from Harrods"; and splurged on Graff jewellery and Damien Hirst art objects.

They kept a Hummer, mainly "to take the dogs to the vet". But this gilded life collapsed in 2006, amid the Project Moscow "meltdown" and the marriage broke down. It would prove the start of a tumultuous decade.

A shady world of mafia and money laundering

After his death, "papers were found purporting to allege that Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich had swindled former business partners out of hundreds of millions" a case later taken up by Berezovsky when he unsuccessfully sued Abramovich for £3bn in 2012. Abramovich has always argued the documents were forged.

The investment that brought Young and his (now dead) associates together, was Project Russia: a vast, highly secretive retail property development scheme, which an anonymous friend alleges turned out to be a mafia scam. Young and co put up £140m, and were "then offered a quasi-deal" in whichthey were lent more money "to put in as a deposit".

Ultimately, "they were in to the tune of £280m". But the money vanished in 2006, when Russian government planners pulled the plug on the project, leaving them tied to "a massive debt". Threats from some "very nasty people" started soon after. If not murdered, the anonymous source believes they were certainly "bullied" into taking their own lives.

Two years ago, Young was hung out of a window at The Dorchester "and told he would be dropped if he did not come up with some money". Russian mafiosi may not have been Young's only unsavoury business associates, says Ollie Gilman in the Daily Mail.

According to ex-wife Michelle, he had links with the Adams Family (the north London organised crime family) in the early 1990s. And part of his fortune came from money laundering.

Last year, a judge dismissed Young's claims of penury, ruling that he actually had around £40m stashed in secret offshore accounts, says David Brown in The Sunday Times. The hunt for the cash continues.