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Locating hidden assets during divorce

The Panama Papers recently revealed how many people involved in high asset divorces hide assets to keep them from their soon-to-be ex-spouses -- in offshore companies. This is nothing really new, though. Many people have been doing it for years as a way to keep from paying taxes.

The Panama Papers contained some 11.5 million documents from a Panamanian law firm with many examples of people who wanted to keep their spouses from getting their hands on half of their fortune. This law firm was reportedly used frequently for these purposes. The law firm, though, says that a hacker stole the documents and those papers haven't been released to the public.

One man, who is known for owning an $88 million New York City penthouse, van Gogh and Picasso paintings and a yacht worth $60 million, reportedly moved assets out of Switzerland so that his wife couldn't get half of them during their divorce in 2008.

Last year, that man was ordered to pay his wife $4.5 billion, but the court eventually cut that down to $600 million by the Swiss court. The court was never able to prove if the man had committed fraud when he hid those assets.

Americans who hide money in offshore accounts are playing with their future, according to one forensic accountant. His job is to find the money and assets that his clients' spouses have hidden. Divorce requires that all assets be disclosed and when that doesn't happen, the spouse hiding the assets can go to jail or at the very least, have to deal with the Internal Revenue Service. An attorney from New York said that even if no one knows about or could find out about it, wouldn't it be hard to sleep at night?

If you believe your spouse is hiding assets, you should speak with your divorce attorney. He or she can inform of your legal options moving forward.

Source: news.vice.com, "Divorce: One More Reason Why the Super Rich Want to Hide Their Money," John Dyer, April 14, 2016

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