If divorce is on the horizon and you want to safeguard your financial wellbeing, it’s important to trace concealed assets that may be rightfully yours, says Chaman Salhan, chief executive of law firm 2ndOpinionNow…
As Valentine’s Day approaches many people look forward to spending valuable time with a loved one, but some reminisce about failed relationships and the financial costs associated with them. High-net-worth individuals who complain that their financial separation was unfair regularly contact me. I am told that the main reason for their dissatisfaction was down to an ex-partner having hoodwinked a judge into believing that they were worth a lot less than they were. Their partner had concealed their true financial worth.
In December, The Times reported that Dragons’ Den entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne gave false evidence during a divorce battle. So was Bannatyne’s misdemeanour limited to just him? Sadly, no. The desire to perjure is great. In reality, the greater the financial stake, the greater the likelihood of dishonesty and deception. Add to this the way in which many relationships end, and it is little surprise that the most honest individual can become a liar.
In one case a woman won the lottery but decided not to tell her husband. She applied for divorce and pretended that she was entitled to half of the matrimonial assets. Her husband contested the matter but later agreed to a one-off payment of around 40 per cent of the value of the assets. But he didn’t know that his wife had £5m-plus sitting in her bank account. Was her motivation greed or not wishing to share her wealth?
In another example a husband cheated on his wife and she filed for divorce. He used several offshore trusts to conceal the value of his assets and sold his share in his company at a substantial loss to prevent her from having a share. Once the financial separation was resolved, the money reappeared and he bought back his stake. So what can you do if you believe this has happened to you?
A recent Supreme Court ruling made it clear that a financially disadvantaged partner can now reapply to the court to ask for a redetermination. At 2nd Opinion Now we help our clients build the evidential case to support such action. To achieve this we have entered into an informal arrangement with Bishop International, a team of investigators who have an enviable reputation for tracing hidden assets, undisclosed tainted gifts and commercial interests. Additionally, we use special computer software that allows us to ascertain areas of dispute and then focus on whether the party can be proven to have lied.
Where we can prove deceit, we turn the screw – to ensure that the party settles without the need for the matter to go back to court. If they remain unshaken, we go back to court and outgun them to achieve a fair settlement for clients and recovery of our costs. So if the deceitful partner had claimed the matrimonial assets were worth £1m when they were really worth £3m, we would argue that they are liable to pay a further £1m in settlement of any newly launched redetermination. Any party who has misled the court by wilful deceit is capable of being found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice, and can face imprisonment as a result.
Lord Archer had won a civil libel case involving defamation proceedings. Investigative work later showed that he had given false testimony. As a result, not only was the judgement overturned but he was criminally prosecuted and convicted. If the evidence can be collated to show that there has been deceit, then there is a possibility that criminal proceedings could be launched. The threat of this often brings the most stubborn party to the negotiating table. It should be noted that a criminal prosecution does not need to be pursued by the police but can be brought by an individual.
How we can help
At 2ndOpinionNow we assist clients with private prosecutions and have seen a rise in interest for such a potent weapon from disaffected individuals who feel that the court has been misled and are now powerless to do anything about it.
Divorce Fraud Assistance – a specialist company helping defrauded divorcees – has entered into an agreement to refer all suitable cases to 2ndOpinionNow so that it can handle the legal process. Early statistical analysis suggests the problem could have affected one in 10 financial settlements.
Returning to the case of the under-declaration of £2m, the wrongdoer may be more amenable to settling quickly and quietly if they think they are going to be ending up before a crown court judge with the risk of potentially facing a jail sentence of up to two years.
For more on 2ndOpinionNow:
If you would like a thorough and confidential review of any financial settlement that you have entered into, contact 2ndOpinionNow’s team of specialist lawyers at 2ndopinionnow.co.uk