In an unusual move for a divorce case, a Queens judge added Benny Tal’s business partners as defendants in Benny’s divorce action because the three men had colluded to hide Benny’s assets from his wife Michal. As Michal told the New York Post, “It’s like a dirty soap opera. There’s so much fraud going on, we now have a divorce proceeding involving a husband, wife and his two business partners.”
Benny, along with his two business partners, owned a lucrative parking garage in Manhattan through a company called Kura River Management, Ltd. As part of the Tals’ divorce proceeding, the judge ordered a valuation of Kura River. Benny’s business partners obstructed the valuation after the appraiser discovered that Kura River had hidden at least $100,000 in cash from Michal and from the tax authorities.
In the meantime, Benny and his partners met with an attorney whose license had been suspended to discuss ways to hide Benny’s money. They decided that the partners would buy Benny’s $1.6 million stake in the company for $250,000, in violation of the court’s restraining order. Benny then promptly took the cash and ran. When the judge had him arrested and dragged back into court, Benny claimed that he had squandered all of the money on bad investments.
We have seen countless cases in which the non-moneyed spouse (in our experience, this is often the wife) thinks that her husband runs a fairly straightforward, lucrative business. Come divorce time, the husband says he’s destitute and the business is hemorrhaging money. With some digging, you can often find out whether the husband may have taken steps to make his company look less profitable on paper.
In this case, we would have started by investigating whether Benny had any other companies he could have used to hide income from his parking garage business. We would also have interviewed former employees, litigation opponents, or others who had done business with Benny and Kura River to ascertain how much cash business the company did, how diligently they managed the company’s books, and whether they had side companies or accounts that they used to hide cash. Then, we would have taken a close look at the finances and lifestyles of his business partners. We would also look for any real property, vehicles, aircraft, or other purchases Benny might have made so that he could plausibly claim that he spent all of his money on bad investments. A good divorce lawyer can then use that information to send targeted subpoenas and recover Benny’s and Kura River’s hidden assets.