THE ex-wife of a crooked New Town solicitor suing his own sister for around £11 million today told how she planned to hire a lawyer after being left penniless and bankrupt following their divorce.
Michael Karus, who was jailed for three-and-a-half years for embezzling £400,000 from a pensioner’s estate, has admitted hiding assets from his estranged wife in a bid to stop her claiming part of his fortune.
The 50-year-old transferred much of his property empire into the hands of his sister and brother-in-law. He is now suing them after alleging that they have refused to give back his money.
Now Marta Karus, 54, who was married to the solicitor for more than 20 years, said she was planning to launch her own legal bid to claim her share of the sum.
Mrs Karus said she asked for a divorce in 2004 after learning he was having an affair.
But she claims Karus used delaying tactics to give him time to shift his assets and, when they finally divorced in 2007, she received only a flat she had been paying the mortgage on.
She said the stress from the protracted divorce battle and her financial situation caused her to suffer a heart attack in December last year, leaving her in hospital for five days.
Polish-born Mrs Karus, the mother of their two adult children, said her lawyers failed to keep her informed about the divorce and her former husband was able to avoid sharing any of his wealth.
She said: “I never even received a letter to tell me I was divorced. The court case went ahead when I wasn’t even there. My son only found out when he went to the court to check what was happening with it.
“I received nothing from Michael. I was not surprised when he admitted that he had moved his assets. He is a cheat and a liar. It is all down to his greed.
“I only received a small flat in Newhaven, which I had been paying the mortgage on since 2000. Michael had only seven properties when we were married. He later had more than 300. I was entitled to a share, but I was left with no money at all. All Michael cares about is money.”
Mrs Karus, who is registered disabled, was left with £16,000 of legal fees for her divorce, and was later declared bankrupt due to unpaid council tax.
Now surviving on her disability living allowance and renting a city centre flat, she added: “I’m now living below the poverty line. I have high blood pressure and all the stress caused me to have a heart attack.”
Last Wednesday, the News revealed that Karus moved the assets from his property portfolio to his sister, Anielka McElvogue, 52, and her husband, Anthony, 51, after being banned from acting as a company director in 2004.
In papers lodged at the Court of Session, Karus admitted carrying out transfers to hide his worth from his estranged wife.
Karus was known to boast of being a “shark” who preyed on vulnerable victims. Two of the firms he transferred to his sister were GWS [Great White Shark] Property Ltd and Mako Property Ltd – named after the shark.
Karus was jailed in October 2009 after admitting embezzling £413,052 while acting as executor of the estate of Edith Hampton, 89, who died in 2003.
Lawyers for Karus, who lives in Gloucester Place, were contacted for comment but did not reply.