Marcel Kooter: Details of how Lovestruck businessman, who gave a Tinder lover £200,000 starts a new court battle to get money back

Marcel Kooter

A lovestruck businessman who gave nearly £200,000 on a Tinder date is fighting for his money almost five years later in court.

“Naive” London oil industry expert Marcel Kooter, 61, said he was “dazzled by attraction” after meeting Bulgarian Manuela Radeva, 41, online in February 2017.

Mr. Kooter was in a nine-month relationship with Ms. Radeva, who claimed to be an investment manager and moved into his Woolwich flat soon after meeting him.

Marcel Kooter

He eventually revealed, however, that she was neither a professional financier nor single, having married another guy just a few weeks before.

Mr Kooter sued them in December 2017 to get his money back.

He won his case but is still fighting to this day over 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 he won a victory in his five-year battle when a judge in London annulled Ms Radeva’s bankruptcy and paved the way for him to pursue her over his money

Ms Radeva’s successful bankruptcy file, according to Judge Raquel Agnello KC, was based on a series of fraudulent information and a phony university credential to create the “illusion” that she was a UK resident and so eligible for bankruptcy here.

The Supreme Court heard throughout the case that, despite their brief connection, the pair had a “lavish lifestyle” together, including skiing excursions and stays in luxurious hotels.

The court heard that Mr Kooter gave his new partner thousands of dollars in presents, including fashionable baggage and a Chanel handbag and purse, as well as covering “hotel and bar bills.”

Marcel Kooter: Details of how Lovestruck businessman, who gave a Tinder lover £200,000 starts a new court battle to get money back

He reclaimed £182,000 when they divorced, which he said he gave her assuming she was a professional who would invest it for him.

But Michael Collard for Ms Radeva claimed the payments were an essential part of their lavish “household expenses as a couple” and Ms Radeva should not reimburse him.

“This was a very high-income man in a clearly serious relationship,” he said. “They lived together. That was a relationship with a lot of kisses. It wasn’t a professional relationship between the two.”

In her testimony before the judge, Ms Radeva claimed she never said she was an investment manager and that trading was just her “evening hobby”.

However, in 2019, Judge John Cavanagh stated that a screenshot of her Tinder profile from 2017 “revealed in that profile that she was employed by Citibank.”

He also ordered her to pay Mr Kooter £182,050 plus £3,641 interest and his £20,000 legal fees because she signed emails with “Manuela Radeva, Capital Investment Manager.”

However, Ms Radeva filed for bankruptcy just over three weeks later, with Mr Kooter as her sole significant creditor, and the order was issued in July of the same year.

Details of how Lovestruck businessman, who gave a Tinder lover £200,000 starts a new court battle to get money back

She claimed to live in Epsom, Surrey, where she was educated and worked, and where she conducted her social life and operated her businesses.

However, the judge said significant doubts had been cast over her claims, including the fact that she completed a master’s degree at Birkbeck UCL – a university that doesn’t even exist.

“It’s hard to imagine that someone who went to one of these prestigious colleges and earned an MBA there would make such a mistake,” the judge said.

An alleged certificate of participation in a course misspelled the name of the real Birkbeck University and contained other typos, she continued.

She had also claimed to have worked in marketing jobs in the UK, including at Picturehouse Cinemas, but provided no details of the job or evidence of receiving a salary or paying taxes.

“It is the case of Mr Kooter that Ms Radeva is essentially trying to create the illusion of a permanent presence in the UK,” she continued.

‘After examining the evidence before me, I believe that Ms Radeva’s habitual residence remained in Bulgaria.

Details of how Lovestruck businessman, who gave a Tinder lover £200,000 starts a new court battle to get money back

“The evidence does not support an actual change of habitual residence. The evidence shows an attempt on their part to create the illusion of habitual residence in England and Wales.

“Her evidence does not address the close and strong ties she has in Bulgaria.

‘She presented this court with a certificate which I believe is not genuine. She relies on her various marketing and other courses but provides no evidence of how she funds her studies or lifestyle in England and Wales.

‘As I understand from the evidence, she was not carrying on any economic activity in England and Wales at the material time.

“Accordingly, I am satisfied that at the time Ms. Radeva attempted to file for bankruptcy, the court did not have jurisdiction to issue such an order as her center of main interests is in Bulgaria.”

Ms Radeva’s bankruptcy has been declared null and void.

The matter will now be heard again at a later date to determine the repercussions of the judge’s order.