Divorce is never a pretty thing—but it can get especially messy when massive amounts of money are involved. You’ve read about the complex prenups celebrity couples have to sign in Hollywood. Personal wealth is clearly a sensitive issue from “I do” onward.
But what if your significant other hid $400 million from you? According to a recent feature in The New York Times Magazine, this is exactly what happened to Sarah Pursglove, who mid–crumbling marriage, uncovered her former husband’s massive (and complex) cache of wealth that both she and the Canadian courts were entirely unaware of (her husband even filed the case in Canada, so that she couldn’t seek legal representation from an American lawyer who deals with cases like this one).
How did he do it? It’s part of an ongoing trend of what is called “offshoring,” or basically tying up one’s assets in bogus companies, and as the Times put it, a “global archipelago” of tax-free or close to it, where lawyers and financial advisors are entrusted with basically hiding the wealth. “[It’s meant] to make the richest people in the world appear to own as little as possible,” explains the Times‘ Nicholas Confessore.
For more on the legal cat-and-mouse game that followed—and whether Pursglove ever saw a single cent—click here. Below, watch an informative TEDx video on the phenomenon of “offshoring,” and how it can apply not only to the ultra-wealthy, but also entire countries.