Regular readers of our blog might know that it’s not incredibly uncommon for people going through a separation or divorce to avoid making full financial disclosure, with some people going to great lengths to keep their finances undisclosed. A recent article in the Ottawa Citizen highlights one such instance as well as the harsh penalties imposed that people can face when trying to hide their finances from the courts.

A pattern of deceit

The husband is an Ottawa business owner who had previously run unsuccessfully to become the city’s mayor. At some point or points following the separation, the husband sold properties and businesses he owned without telling the wife. Following the sales, he withdrew over $1 million dollars from the bank.

The husband had already been defying a court order not to sell the businesses or properties. When he did so anyway, the court sought to find out where the money went but was unable to do so. The situation ultimately landed the husband back in court to face a judge who was not too sympathetic to his situation.

A tall tale

Appearing before the court again, the judge asked the husband what happened to the money from the sales. He explained that through 25 withdrawals, he took $1,050,000 out of six bank accounts, showing the receipts to prove he did so. However, what he says next happened was shocking. The Ottawa Citizen describes the dialogue between the husband and the judge as follows,

“So where’s the money now? (the judge) pressed.

“I destroyed it,” (the husband) replied.

“You’ve lost me. What do you mean?” the judge asked.

(The husband) rambled and spoke of anxiety about a relationship with a daughter.

“Can I back you up a bit? When you say you destroyed it, what do you mean?” the judge asked.

“I burnt it,” (the husband) explained.

“To the tune of how much?” the judge probed.

“In total, about a million and thirty-nine thousand dollars.”

Despite his claims, the husband said he did not film the fire, and there were no witnesses on hand to back up his claim. The judge expressed that his explanation was hard to believe, saying it was “crystal clear” that the husband “has very clearly and deliberately set out to thwart the court and the proper administration of justice.”

Serious consequences

Following the hearing, the husband was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs and taken to jail to serve a 30-day sentence. In addition to his jail time, he was informed he would face a serious financial penalty of $2,000 per day for every day he failed to explain where the million dollars in cash had gone. The judge warned the husband that,

“It may well be, therefore, that your remaining assets, equity in the home and RRSPs, etc., end up entirely in the hands of (ex-wife). If that’s the result you are trying to bring about, then so be it. But you cannot thumb your nose at the court as you have done.”

Going through a separation or divorce can be difficult and emotional. The experienced and compassionate divorce lawyers at NULaw can make the process easier by providing outstanding legal guidance and ensuring your interests and rights are protected so that you can focus on moving on with your life. Contact us online or at 416-481-5604 to book a consultation.

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