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Friday, October 28, 2022 – A businessman who fell in love with a woman he met on social media app, Tinder and gave nearly £200,000 to her is now fighting in court to get his money back almost five years later.
London-based oil industry consultant Marcel Kooter, 61, is suing Manuela Radeva, 41, after meeting her on social media in February 2017.
He claims he was ‘blinded by love’ which led him to transfer the huge amount of money into her bank account.
Kooter says he had a nine-month whirlwind relationship with Ms Radeva, who claimed to be an investment manager and just weeks after meeting, the couple moved into Kooter’s luxury apartment in Woolwich together.
But he later discovered she was not a professional financier, nor even single having wed another man a few weeks earlier.
Kooter sued her in December 2017 in a bid to get his money back.
He won his case, but is still fighting to this day to get the £206,000 she now owes him after she filed for bankruptcy in the UK within a month of the February 2019 ruling.
However, last week a judge annulled Radeva’s bankruptcy, paving the way for him to get his cash from her.
Judge Raquel Agnello KC said Ms Radeva’s successful bankruptcy application had been based on a string of false statements and a fake university certificate.
He said they were designed to create an ‘illusion’ that she was UK-based and so eligible for bankruptcy there.
During the case the High Court heard that the couple enjoyed a ‘lavish lifestyle’, going on skiing holidays and staying in expensive hotels.
Kooter splashed thousands on gifts, including designer luggage and a Chanel handbag and purse for his new lover, the court heard.
After they split up, he demanded back £182,000 which he said he gave her in the belief she was a professional who would invest it for him.
Michael Collard, lawyer to Ms Radeva, claimed the payments were part-and-parcel of their lavish ‘domestic expenses as a couple’ and that Ms Radeva should not be made to pay him back.
He said: ‘This was a man on a very high income in what was clearly a serious relationship.
They were living together. This was a relationship with lots of kisses. It was not a professional relationship between the two of them.’
In her evidence, Ms Radeva had claimed before the judge that she had never said she was an investment manager and that trading was merely her ‘hobby in the evening’.
But ruling in 2019, Judge John Cavanagh said a screenshot of her Tinder profile from 2017 ‘stated on that profile that she was employed by Citibank.’
She had also signed off emails ‘Manuela Radeva, Capital Investment Manager’, he said, ordering that she pay Mr Kooter £182,050, plus £3,641 interest, and his £20,000 legal costs.
However, just over three weeks later, Ms Radeva applied to be made bankrupt with Kooter her only substantial creditor and the order was made in July of that year.
Last week, annulling the bankruptcy after a challenge by Kooter, Judge Agnello said he had spent years trying to get it overturned, but had seen hearings aborted numerous times due to claims of illness by Ms Radeva.
The case continues.