COMMENT:

Eric Watson has run out of trumps and the game is almost over.

Yesterday's High Court ruling that companies he owns are liable for $51.5 million in back-taxes plus interest (estimated at $60.5m) will be extremely hard for the once high-flying businessman to come back from.

Subject to appeal, the decision doesn't specify penalty interest which is likely to add millions more to the final figure.

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The case, which centred on a complicated series of related-party loans using Cayman Islands vehicles to avoid paying tax, looks like the final chapter of a highly controversial business career spanning three decades.