Harold Hamm, Oklahoma oil tycoon and CEO of Continental Resources, sent a handwritten check to his former wife, Sue Ann Arnall, to settle their divorce. The amount: $974,790,317.77.
Arnall rejected the check through her lawyers.
The nearly $975 million amount was imposed by an Oklahoma County judge in a November divorce ruling. Both Arnall and Hamm have filed appeals. Arnall refused the check out of concern it would hurt her chances in future court judgments, according to Hamm’s lawyer, Michael Burrage. The Telegraph quoted Burrage on the matter.
“Ms. Arnall, through her counsel, stated that they were rejecting the… payment because Ms. Arnall did not want to risk the dismissal of her appeal by acceptance of the benefits.”
One of Ms. Arnall’s attorneys, Ron Barber, confirmed to The Wall Street Journal she cannot accept a payment from Harold Hamm without risking damage to her appeal.
“Mr. Hamm’s counsel is fully aware of our position in this regard, and of the law regarding the acceptance of benefits pending appeal.”
The November ruling also awarded Arnall assets such as properties in California and Oklahoma, for a total value of approximately $1 billion, according the Telegraph report. Arnall has filed an appeal on the basis that the settlement is inadequate. Her lawyers claim Harold Hamm’s assets total approximately $18 billion.
Hamm owns a 68 percent stake in Continental and his lawyers claim that his net worth has suffered with the decline in the price of oil. The Washington Post reports that Hamm was worth $19 billion in August of 2014, but now his worth may be half of that amount.
The Journal reports Hamm initially said the November settlement was “fair and equitable,” but did an about-face in December when Ms. Arnall filed an appeal. Hamm now calls the November settlement “erroneous.” The couple is headed to Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Harold Hamm and Sue Ann Arnall were married for 26 years. She is an attorney and former Continental executive. The couple have adult children and did not have a prenuptial agreement.
The Post explains that in an Oklahoma divorce, a couple splits wealth gained from the active effort or talents of either person. Hamm would benefit from the claim that he simply got lucky by owning stock in a successful oil company.
CNN Money noted in August that Arnall, who used Harold Hamm’s last name until recently, might have herself contributed to Continental’s success due to her role as an executive. The same report identified Harold Hamm as the 39th richest person in the world.
[Image from The Wall Street Journal]