Harold Hamm’s ex-wife, Sue Ann Arnall, has deposited a handwritten $974.8 million divorce check, the Oklahoma oil magnate’s lawyer said on January 8.
Sue Ann Arnall, 58, deposited the check after earlier this week declining the payment and pledging to pursue her appeal of a divorce ruling she viewed as unfair.
In the November ruling by an Oklahoma County Court judge, Harold Hamm, the chief executive of Continental Resources was allowed to keep his 68% stake in the company, now worth about $9 billion, while Sue Ann Arnall was awarded about $1 billion in cash and assets from the marital estate.
The check represents the entire remaining balance of what Harold Hamm owes Sue Ann Arnall based on the November ruling, including interest.
Harold Hamm’s divorce lawyer, Craig Box, said he believes Sue Ann Arnall’s deposit of the check will end her efforts to appeal the case and that Hamm also wants the case resolved.
“We have received confirmation that the check was deposited in an Oklahoma City bank,” Craig Box said.
A source close to the Hamm case confirmed the deposit, which represents one of the largest divorce awards in US history.
Earlier, Harold Hamm had filed his own appeal, seeking to have Oklahoma’s Supreme Court reduce what he owes Sue Ann Arnall, after a plunge in oil prices shaved billions from the value of his Continental shares in recent months. During a trial last year, the shares had been worth as much as $19 billion.
The Hamm case, initially filed in 2012, has pitted Oklahoma’s most successful oil wildcatter against his former wife of 26 years, an attorney and longtime executive at Continental. The company, a leading oil driller in North Dakota, was dragged into the case but has said it did not affect business.
In an appeal document, Sue Ann Arnall contended a trial judge wrongly allowed Harold Hamm to keep more than 90% of the wealth the couple accrued during their marriage.
Although Harold Hamm owned Continental before the marriage in 1988, the value of his shares surged 400-fold during the union. Sue Ann Arnall has been seeking a multi-billion dollar portion of those gains.
To limit what he would owe, Harold Hamm’s defense sought to show that his company’s growth during the marriage resulted mostly from “passive” factors beyond his control, such as rising oil prices. Under Oklahoma law, only the growth in wealth stemming from the active efforts and skills of either spouse during the marriage is split in a divorce.
Sue Ann Arnall contended that Harold Hamm’s deft management of the firm led to its growth.
Harold Hamm has already paid Arnall more than $20 million during the case, and the parties have spent millions in legal fees.
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