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Tricky financial plan didn't stop $4.5 billion divorce award

The 147th richest person on the Forbes list of billionaires -- once the 79th -- made a lot of his money in the potash mining industry, leading to the nickname of the “fertilizer king.” Today, he is estimated to be worth $8.8 billion, but that net worth could change just a little bit if the divorce settlement granting his ex-wife $4.5 billion and million-dollar real estate properties is finalized.

We use the words “could” and “if” in this case because Swiss courts, where the divorce was filed and the settlement was determined, provide two levels of appeal. Even with the possibility of an appeal, the ex-wife’s legal team declared this a triumph. “No one -- not even a Russian tycoon who put his fabulous fortune into legal structures such as trusts and offshore companies -- is above the law,” they said.

But why do we care about this particular divorce settlement in Columbus, Ohio, in the heart of the good ole’ US of A?

This settlement could be the largest high-asset divorce settlement ever in history, so there is that little interesting part. However, there are issues in this case that apply to many high net worth divorces right here in Ohio.

The quote mentioned above describes a carefully drafted financial plan, and one that the husband said was made prior to the wife filing for divorce. Well, the truth is that some carefully constructed plans aren’t always disclosed, like offshore accounts, or may have been designed specifically to hide assets in the event of a divorce.

It is an issue that an experienced Ohio divorce attorney has on his or her radar. An attorney will use resources, like a forensic accountant, to help uncover these hidden assets. An attorney will also ensure that assets transferred to avoid being considered in the marital estate can be recovered or that the other spouse receives adequate compensation.

Source: Associated Press, “Russian oligarch faces $4.5 billion Swiss divorce,” John Heilprin, May 20, 2014

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