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Billionaires implicated in hiding assets from spouses

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A high-profile document leak involving Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca showed that the company played a major role in helping numerous individuals to prevent their spouses from obtaining divorce assets they might have been entitled to. In one email, the firm's staff even made light of its intentions to help a man hide his assets before he went through a formal divorce. Manchester's married population may be interested to know that in addition to well-known British property developer Scot Young, the firm's clientele included individuals in Russia, Thailand, Ecuador and the Netherlands. 

Observers say that firms like Mossack Fonseca commonly help their clients hide assets in offshore tax havens. The emails showed that in addition to transferring properties like real estate holdings to shell companies, billionaires moved possessions like artwork and furniture out of their shared homes when they believed their marriages were headed towards divorce. One of the shell companies involved in this obfuscation was no more than a post box, but its assets included paintings by famous artists and palatial household furnishings. 

One judge condemned a particular case as blatant example of misrepresentation and concealment. The man involved claimed he had no money to pay his ex-wife's claim even though he had formerly controlled a £69 million fortune. Mossack Fonseca disavowed responsibility by claiming that it didn't actually oversee any of its clients' possessions or assets. 

Billionaires aren't the only people who try to stop their spouses from obtaining what they're owed following divorces. Men and women who bring assets to a marriage may feel they have a right to full control when they separate, and this may lead to them illegally trying to obscure their holdings. Those seeking a divorce may wish to obtain the advice of a family law solicitor on asset valuation and division issues.