Everybody knows there can be hidden community property in ultra-high-net-worth divorces. Meanwhile, the ultra-high-net-worth divorce between Mr. Bill Gates and his wife Melinda does not now appear to involve hidden community property. Their divorce does however, give us a glimpse of the kinds of community property the Court often divides in ultra-high-net worth divorces. Mr. and Mrs. Gates recently filed an agreement in Court which reportedly identifies and divides their community property. Additionally, Mr. Gates is thought to have already transferred $2.4 billion to Mrs. Gates. Part of this transfer to Mrs. Gates included 14.1 million shares of Canadian National Railway Co. and 2.94 million shares in AutoNation Inc. Among other things, the couple’s community property includes 422 square miles of land across more than a dozen states, cars & art.
3 Ways Community Property Can Be Hidden
Although Mr. & Mrs. Gates appear to be amicably dividing their community property, here are some ways a spouse can hide community property during an ultra-high-net worth divorce:
- Arts / Antiquities: Ultra-high-net worth couples often possess valuable art / antiquities. However, a divorcing spouse may secretly purchase valuable art / antiquities. During the divorce this spouse may then fail to disclose the art / antiquities.
- Yachts & / or Airplanes: Some businesses offer their clients the service of titling a yacht & / or aircraft in the name of a Delaware or other shell company. A divorcing spouse may hide community property by employing and abusing these services. Furthermore, a divorcing spouse may easily place a yacht & / or airplane out of reach by parking it offshore across international borders.
- Bulk Cash Smuggling: Contrary to what one would think, enormous amounts of cash can be hidden. This cash may then be washed at a money laundering circuit. At AMC’s Breaking Bad tv episode “Say My Name,” fictional lawyer Daniel Wachsberger used at least nine safety deposit boxes to smuggle cash for his clients. A real world case of suspected bulk cash smuggling involved Zhenli Ye Gon (“Ye Gon”). Ye Gon was extradited from the United States to Mexico for an alleged drug conspiracy. During March 2007, the hundreds of millions in cash shown here were found in Ye Gon’s Mexican home in a concealed room next to his bedroom:
Copyright 2021 Fred L. Abrams