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How the super-rich really hide their assets during messy divorces

2nd June 2015 - John Oxley
How the super-rich really hide their assets during messy divorces

Ayesha Vardag has spent over a decade at the top of family law and has worked on some of the biggest and most high profile divorces around. She has now spoken to the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph about some of the tricks used to hide wealth.

Ayesha told the Daily Mail Private businesses are so easy to hide money in - you can hide money through accounts in places like Panama, the Cayman Islands and Mauritius. Ownership of companies can be kept secret for instance and you end up with what looks to the untrained eye like a complete mess.

Drawing on her experience acting on behalf of Michelle Young, she explained that in that case we got an order that Scot Young hand over £26million to Michelle. That was from him starting out saying he was £28million in debt. But the judge decided that on contrary he was worth £45million. That came in part from information on hard drives and laptops.

Referring to her work in other divorces, Ayesha added Ive seen a few cases where people hide their money in ancient coins. There were huge debates about the value and the whereabouts of ancient coins, with one in particular worth tens of thousands of pounds. There have also been instances of using charities in rather uncharitable ways. Trusts have been set up for charitable purposes but then a lot of money is extracted from them through complex mechanisms and there is a debate about who is really benefiting from them.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, she said I wouldnt describe it so much as malice as just selfishness, greed and an unwillingness to share. Whether people think that is right or wrong, the reality in England is you get half the marital fortune - roughly. There is a reaction against that and that its causing people to be extremely devious and driven to hide the true extent of their resources.

Ayesha went on to explain some of the work  She told the Mail that there is plenty which can be done to get around the devious tricks, saying Dont take a knife to a gunfight, you need to make sure youre properly armed so that you can get your fair share - its as simple as that. Dont let the wool be pulled over your eyes, you have to get a fair fight.

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