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Divorce and the complex webs of hidden assets

Member: Nifa

With London the acknowledged divorce capital of the world, a national newspaper has written a piece on the more inspired places spouses try and hide their assets. The list is long, however, the fact that they have been discovered shows just how vital a forensic accountant is when it comes to finding assets in a divorce case.

Of course, most people who have no desire to be fair when it comes to a division of the marital spoils will do their best to keep their assets offshore, where business monies can be extracted through various complicated financial structures in order to pay as little tax as possible.

Popular are places such as Panama, the Cayman Islands or Mauritius, where it seems business accounts can be kept out of sight and the business owner’s name and shareholdings hidden.  

The article continues with an illustration of the story of a particularly nasty divorce in which the husband maintained he was heavily in debt. However, the expertise of the forensic accountants involved in the case, found information on hard drives and laptops that clearly showed he actually owned several million pounds scattered and hidden around the world.
Other good hiding places include investing in ancient coins, as there can be lengthy debates about their whereabouts and values. There have also been cases where charities have been used in rather uncharitable ways.

The bottom line is that, apart from physically hiding assets and never telling anyone where they are, which is a risky strategy, trying to make them invisible to a forensic accountant just isn’t going to work.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 13 September 2016


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