Scot Young, 51, has given the High Court in London the "run-around" after being told to provide details of his finances and should be sent to prison, according to his wife Michelle's lawyers.
Mr Young, who made his fortune as a property deal "fixer" for Russian oligarchs and British billionaires, said yesterday that Mrs Young, 48, was trying to have him jailed out of "malice".
He told the court he had "done everything in my power" and asked Mr Justice Moor to give him more time to answer financial questions posed by Mrs Young.
Mr Justice Moor said he would first rule on whether Mr Young had been in contempt of court orders, then consider any sentence which might be imposed.
Judges have heard the Youngs, who both live in London and have two daughters, separated in 2006.
Two years ago, a judge ordered Mr Young to pay Mrs Young £27,500 a month in maintenance.
Mr Young, who has been described at earlier hearings as a property tycoon, says he is bankrupt and cannot pay.
Mrs Young says Mr Young has "secreted enormous assets".
The pair's claims are due to be fully argued at a trial scheduled to begin late this year.
Edward Fitzgerald, QC, for Mrs Young, yesterday told Mr Justice Moor that Mr Young had not complied with orders to provide Mrs Young with details of finances and should be jailed for being in contempt of court.
Mr Fitzgerald said Mr Young had been worth £400 million in 2006 but had given no explanation about where that money had gone.
He said Mr Young pleaded poverty but seemed to be living a lifestyle that was "consistent with considerable wealth".
Mr Young said he had recently been detained in hospital under mental health legislation and had been unable to secure the services of a barrister.
He said the litigation had led to him being followed by "eight private detectives" and suggested he was under greater surveillance than a terrorist.
He asked the judge to give him another 28 days to comply with orders.
Mr Fitzgerald told Mr Justice Moor that Mrs Young was making an "application to commit" Mr Young to prison for contempt.
He said Mr Young had not complied with court orders to disclose details of finances to Mrs Young and an "immediate order for committal" was justified.
Mr Fitzgerald told the court Mr Young had claimed he was supporting himself by relying on friends and former business associates.
Mr Young, who was raised on a council estate in Dundee, had said he had been given gifts to cover rent and living expenses but had provided no supporting documentation, Mr Fitzgerald told the court.
Mr Fitzgerald said the gifts added up to £155,000 in rent and £151,000 in "other items".
The lawyer told the court: "There is no documentation in relation to any of that. This is an incredible claim, that all this was made in cash in relation to which there was no documentation at all."
He said Mr Young had been worth £400 million in 2006 but had given "absolutely no explanation" about where his fortune had gone.
Mr Fitzgerald added: "He has repeatedly given the court the run-around.
"While he pleads poverty and says he has got nothing, there is evidence of him living a lifestyle consistent with considerable wealth."
Mr Young said he was not represented by a lawyer and the case was "incredibly complicated".
He told the court: "I was only released from hospital on the 10th of January and I was unable to secure the funding which was required to secure the talents of [a barrister].
"This is David and Goliath.
"I have been detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act for 14 days."
Mr Young added that he had been followed by eight detectives.
He told the judge: "You can see the level of surveillance I am under. Terrorists are not normally under that amount of surveillance."
He said that Mrs Young was trying to have him jailed out of malice, adding: "The motivation is punishment."
Mr Young asked Mr Justice Moor to give him a further 28 days. The judge is due to rule on the case today.
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