Messer & Messer Law Offices

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A game of hide and concealment

In the 1985 film, "Brewster's Millions," Monty Brewster (portrayed by Richard Pryor) is set to inherit $300 million. However, to receive the inheritance, he must spend $30 million in 30 days and have the same possessions he owned prior to the influx of money.

Recently leaked documents and emails from a Panama-based law firm revealed the lengths that millionaires and billionaires will go to hide their wealth from their soon-to-be ex-spouses. Mossack Fonseca offered a series of shell companies and foundations to hide their assets. Correspondence directly referred to protecting wealthy individuals "against the unpleasant results of a divorce."

Many tycoons claimed that they were penniless because of failed real estate and business deals. In reality, these "financially strapped" individuals allegedly participated in elaborate swindles to avoid losing money and property.

For some international billionaires, the law firm constructed a tangled web of offshore businesses. The scope of the scam and the number of assets earned it the nickname "Baby Enron." Some participants were in the midst of marital dissolution while others took proactive steps and transferred valuables before starting divorce proceedings.

Similar to the plot of the comedy film, their goal was to emerge with the illusion of having nothing.

Hiding money and possessions are not exclusive to divorces involving multi-million dollar bank accounts and possessions. If you suspect your spouse is concealing assets, you need an attorney who will conduct an exhaustive search to ensure you receive everything you are entitled to by law.

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