London - A besotted businessman who gave £180 000 (about R3.2-million) to a woman 20 years younger he met on Tinder has won a court fight to make her pay it back.
Marcel Kooter, 57, said he was "blinded by attraction" when he transferred £182 000 to Manuela Radeva after they began talking online in February 2017.
Described as "wealthy" but "naive", Kooter plunged into a nine-month relationship with Bulgarian Radeva, who moved into his flat in Woolwich, south-east London.
Radeva, 37, claimed on her Tinder profile that she was an investment banker at Citibank and was single, the High Court in London heard. But she was neither, having married another man a few weeks before she made contact with Mr Kooter, he claimed. After their relationship broke down, he sued her, claiming he had given her the £182 000 to invest for him, thinking she was a high-level investment expert.
She insisted that Kooter gave her the bulk of the money to support their lavish lifestyle, and that she had told him trading was just her hobby.
The court heard that they lived luxuriously, going on skiing trips and staying at top hotels, with Mr Kooter, an oil industry consultant, picking up the tab. He also spent thousands on gifts.
But after they split, he demanded the return of £182 000 he gave her to invest for him, plus 36 000 euros he says was a loan.
Michael Collard, Radeva’s lawyer, said: "This was a man on a very high income in what was clearly a serious relationship. Whether the money was paid is not the important point – the question is what was it for? They were living a luxurious lifestyle and there was lots of money being spent."
However, Neil Vickery, representing Kooter, said: "It is clear the money he was paying her was an investment. She described herself as a capital investment manager on Tinder and in emails." Radeva said some of the £182 000 was spent on cryptocurrency technology for Kooter, while the rest funded their domestic expenses.
But Judge John Cavanagh QC said she couldn’t account for all of the money, her Tinder profile had stated she was "employed by Citibank", and she signed emails as "Manuela Radeva, Capital Investment Manager". He said emails detailed arrangements for Kooter to make investments with her. In one, Kooter wrote: "Just putting a large amount of money into your bank account seems a bit reckless."
The judge said: "There is a great deal of evidence to show Mr Kooter was giving Miss Radeva substantial sums so she could invest on his behalf, having led him to believe she was an expert investor in the finance industry."Daily Mail