Is Your Spouse Hiding Assets?
What do the Panama Papers, the huge leak of documents about off-shore companies, have to do with divorce? The answer can be quite a lot. Sometimes the super-wealthy will use off-shore companies in a complex game of hiding assets from their spouses during divorce. The long-running battle of the Rybolovlev’s is a case in point.
Their divorce case is one of the most expensive in history, worth billions of dollars. Dmitri Rybolovlev made his wealth off of fertilizer mines in Russia, and he and his wife had assets all around the world thanks to this wealth. The Panama Papers have exposed some of the cat-and-mouse games that Dmitri has been playing to use shell companies to hide assets.
A recent news story shows the lengths one man went to in order to serve papers regarding a particular asset in the case. Christopher Williams went to a helicopter tour company in Kauai to stake out Dmitri’s vehicle. When he saw the convoy, he rushed downstairs with a video camera and threw the papers into the chauffeur’s lap before they could drive off.
The asset is New York City penthouse worth $88 million, one of the most expensive apartments in the entire city. Elena Rybolovlev says that the purchase was done to hide assets despite a Swiss freeze on Dmitri’s bank accounts.
When the divorce case first settled, Elena was eligible to receive $4.5 billion dollars. That number has been cut to $600 million on appeal, and the two continue to fight it out it court. The divorce case has been going on for years.
Shell companies have legitimate purposes, but the documents stolen from Mossack Fonseca in the Panama Papers show many instances where wealthy people, mostly men, have created companies solely for the purpose of hiding wealth from their wives in divorce cases. In the case of Rybolovlev, an off-shore company was used to buy and store artwork worth $650 million dollars and keep it hidden.
Unfortunately, if documents can prove that martial fraud was committed with the help of Mossack- Fonseca they can be sued in court. And when you’re talking about the level of finances accessible in the case of many off-shore companies, that’s a lot of legal firepower.
In cases like these, lawyers and courts often hire outside help to get to the bottom of complex finances. If there is a hint of fraud, forensic accountants can sniff it out and present evidence to the court. Marital fraud is a crime and it happens more often than you might imagine. Instead of hiding assets, prove your ownership of them instead and convince the court why you should keep them.
Many wealthy couples live in South Florida along the Gold Coast and on Miami Beach. Getting a clear picture of finances in these cases can be tough, but it’s necessary to get a fair divorce settlement according to the law. Gustavo E. Frances can solicit the help of forensic accountants to discover hidden assets and help you get what you deserve. Call today for a free consultation.