Attention, sneaky husbands or wives: If you squirrel away property from your spouse, Philip Segal could be on your trail. An attorney and former journalist at The Wall Street Journal and International Herald Tribune, Segal makes a living helping law firms track down marital assets for divorcing clients who might be surprised to learn about the husband’s condo in the Caymans or wife’s savings account in Idaho.
Working with law firms that include Loeb & Loeb and New York’s Herrick, Feinstein and Pedowitz & Meister, Segal’s investigations have uncovered an array of oddities that had been hidden from spouses.
Segal, the principal of Charles Griffin Intelligence in New York, recently launched a blog called Divorce Asset Hunter to highlight some of the stranger cases and inform people about where to look for hidden riches. His company also does white-collar and due-diligence investigations.
The National Law Journal spoke with Segal about his line of work. The remarks below have been edited for brevity.
NLJ: Your job sounds exciting. Is it?
Philip Segal: It’s exciting if you like to dig and solve puzzles. If you’re the sort of person who says, ‘Oh good, the liens from Connecticut are here,’ when 600 pages of stuff has just arrived [at your office], then it’s exciting.
NLJ: What are some of the more unusual assets that you’ve located?
Segal: I was doing an investigation for a person, and he had misplaced a plane. It had been at an airport for five years, and this guy had just moved on to bigger planes. I once found a $4 million house. The guy had bought it [as] an LLC. He had another house in his own name.
NLJ: What do you tell people who think their spouses might be hiding marital assets?
Segal: You know more than you think you know. A lot of people getting a divorce continue to live together. People leave things lying around—receipts. A company [hiding assets] doesn’t have to be offshore. It doesn’t have to be named something other than after the person we’re looking for. It can be an LLC sitting in New York.
NLJ: You’re Philip Segal. Your company is Charles Griffin. Who’s that?
Segal: It’s my son. He was seven at the time [the company was started]. Griffin is his middle name. People seem to remember that name.
NLJ: So how do you start with an investigation?
Segal: You start with a broad methodology, and then you use what you discover to take you along. You open a tiny door, and then you go in. It’s like writing a great newspaper story, but with only two readers.
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