Property tycoon Scot Young asked the High Court to return his confiscated passport.
Mr Young, whose estranged wife Michelle is fighting him for maintenance, said he needed the passport – impounded almost three years ago as part of the penalty for non-disclosure of assets – to get his life “back on track”.
He told Mr Justice Mostyn in London that he wanted to set up a business opportunity overseas involving a charity.
“I want to re-start my career and that would be to the benefit of all, including my family.”
He said that he had substantially complied with his legal obligations and attended every court date, even when out of the jurisdiction, and the retention of his passport was a clear breach of his human rights.
But Michelle Young’s counsel, Edward Fitzgerald QC, said it should stay confiscated to preserve the “status quo” until a court hearing later this year.
Mrs Young, 48, wants a “forensic accountant” to examine the finances of her 50-year-old husband who, two years ago, was ordered to pay her £27,500 a month maintenance, but claims he is “well and truly bankrupt”.
The couple, who both live in London and have two teenage daughters, separated in 2006.
Mr Fitzgerald said that no human rights issues were involved and the charity mentioned by Mr Young had existed since 2003 and had nothing to do with him.
The “overwhelming likelihood”, he said, was that Mr Young would leave the jurisdiction and his wife would be denied any chance of justice. The judge reserved his decision for at least a week.