Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Advice for the Ethically Challenged

We blogged about Bernie Ecclestone, billionaire owner of Formula One, who may lose a lot of his money because he put it in trusts in his soon to be ex-wife's name to avoid taxes. Here's the flip side of the coin. Bernie Madoff, according to Bloomberg, blows holes in the assumption that smart rich guys should never put money in a spouse's name. It seems the Madoffs told a 3rd District Court that Ruth is the owner of the $7 million dollar apartment and also of $62 million in securities. Investors trying to recoup pennies on the dollar in the $50 million Ponzi scheme can't touch her assets, the couple is trying to claim.

The Madoffs could get away with it if they can show that it really is her money. If Bernie Madoff got the $62 million by pulling off a fraud, though, his wife can’t shield it and his creditors are likely to get access to it, according to Sandy Ain a Washington divorce lawyer quoted in the article.

The key for the ethically challenged executive, the article says, is to stash the money before breaking the law so it’s not a “dirty” asset. The article by Susan Antilla at Bloomberg is pretty funny.

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