American oil tycoon Harold Hamm has appealed a court ruling ordering him to pay his ex-wife US$1 billion after his estimated US$19 billion personal fortune has been cut by half amid a plunge in crude prices.
The chief executive of Continental Resources said the judgment was “erroneous and inequitable”, Reuters reported, citing court filings.
Hamm’s appeal was a turnaround from his view of the ruling a month ago, when he hailed it as “fair and equitable”.
Sue Ann Arnall, who was married to Hamm for 26 years, filed an earlier appeal against the Nov. 10 ruling, saying it wrongly allowed the oilman to keep more than 90 percent of the wealth they built together.
Both appeals will be heard by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Hamm contended his 68 percent Continental stake, which he owned before meeting Arnall, surged in value during the marriage due to “passive” or market factors, like rising oil prices.
The distinction is crucial, according to the news agency, since Oklahoma law says only marital wealth stemming from active efforts or skills of either spouse should be split in a divorce.
Hamm’s appeal comes after the value of his Continental shares has fallen
But the value of Continental shares has fallen by more than half to US$9.3 billion, down from as much as US$19 billion during the trial in August.
In his appeal, Hamm, 69, asked the court to consider new evidence: a chart showing that Continental shares dropped 22 percent as oil prices fell 16.5 percent earlier this month.
“The dramatic drop in oil price post-trial and the corresponding drop in the CLR stock price demonstrate the overriding impact of the oil price on the value of the stock,” Hamm said in a court filing.
But according to family law specialist Carolyn Thompson, courts should only consider evidence admitted during the trial, which ended in October.
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