Following the public divorce of Moroccan football player Achraf Hakimi and his wife Hiba Abouk, much attention has been drawn to the way in which Hakimi managed his finances throughout his career and marriage. Unbeknownst to his wife, Hakimi had all his assets put into his mother’s name and accounts. This means that his salary was paid into his mother’s bank account, the properties he purchased were registered in his mother’s name and any investments made were in his mother’s name.
According to media reports, Abouk sought half of Hakimi’s fortune in the divorce. However, when it came to settling the finances, Hakimi had no assets to give to his wife as on paper, he simply did not have any.
It must first be noted that the Hakimis’ matter was not governed by English law as they reside overseas. As far as the legal position under English law, financial proceedings are a significant and often contentious point in many divorces. If there is a significant discrepancy in earnings between the parties, then there will often be the need for one party to share their assets with the other insofar as what is fair and reasonable. In the case of Hakimi and Abouk, she sought half of her husband’s assets as he had a significantly higher income than her. However, as he legally did not own any assets, Abouk did not receive anything.
This led to the ironic situation whereby Abouk has more assets in her name than Hakimi, due to her own career. This could bring to question whether Hakimi will attempt to acquire part of Abouk’s fortune. While Hakimi could arguably seek a settlement in his favour, this would be an improbable scenario as the couple has children and the courts will generally not do anything that might prejudice a child’s wellbeing or that could be deemed unfair.
But, before you all go and ‘do a Hakimi’ please read on…
Firstly, Hakimi’s case wasn’t governed by English Law. Under the English law jurisdiction If, up to three years before the application for divorce, money is transferred to any third parties, which would be Hakimi’s mother in this scenario, then it may very well be viewed as a method of intentionally reducing the value of the matrimonial pot, and therefore be taken into account. The English courts have the power to review situations whereby assets were disposed deliberately with the intention to reduce the financial liability in a divorce.
Moreover, while transferring his assets into his mother’s name might protect him from any claims against his wife, Hakimi may very well face greater issues down the line. It is unknown who the beneficiaries of Hakimi’s mother’s estate are, however Hakimi is one of three children. Therefore by transferring his assets to his mother, they now form a part of her estate. If the three children are all named in the mother’s Will, Hakimi risks losing the assets when she passes. Further, in the event that the mother finds herself subject to third party claims, such as by a husband or another claimant, then that would also put Hakimi’s assets at risk. And finally, it is unclear whether Hakimi has considered the possibility of him and his mother having a falling out, or the possibility of her deciding to make substantial purchases for herself with his fortune.
It may be that the risks and uncertainty of transferring all of his assets to his mother outweigh the benefits. Hakimi has not just transferred assets to his mother, but has consequentially transferred control, authority and an incredible amount of trust.
Furthermore, although the situation would have been an unpleasant surprise for Abouk, Hakimi’s tactic of financial management, albeit unethical, is not illegal. While Abouk may not receive any part of Hakimi’s fortune, Hakimi has undoubtedly put himself in a precarious situation by giving everything to his mother, which eventually will likely cause more damage than good.