Hell Hath No Fury Like a RICO Action: Racketeering Charges Filed in Hedge Fund Divorce

And yet, it’s the second half of her complaint that Ms. Bingham-Perry complaint that made us take note. In addition to Mr. Perry’s alleged concealment of marital assets, she says, her hedge funder soon-to-be ex-husband participated in a conspiracy to drive down the share price of Fairfax Financial.

The short story: In 2006, Toronto-based Fairfax filed suit against an array of parties including Third Point, Mr. Loeb and Mr. Perry, alleging that a group of hedge funds—including Mr. Cohen’s SAC Capital and James Chanos’ Kynikos Associates—spread false rumors about Fairfax in an attempt to drive down the share price, and that those hedge funds profited by shorting Fairfax stock. (Mr. Perry, as well as Mr. Loeb, Mr. Cohen, Mr. Chanos and their respective firms, have all been dismissed from the Fairfax case.)

Ms. Bingham-Perry’s suit alleges: “Jeffrey conspired to commit many instances of disseminating false information about Fairfax in order to harm it and enrich himself from 2003-2006.”

Now, dear reader, is when you might wonder what in the hell this has to do with divorce.

While that allegation doesn’t relate directly to the plaintiff’s claim that her husband concealed assets, the complaint argues that the Fairfax scheme establishes “that Jeffrey has committed or conspired to commute a pattern of racketeering activity in the last decade.”

Bankster is as bankster does, the argument might go, and what’s hiding marital assets offshore to someone who’s conspired to bring down an entire company?

At any rate, that’s one way to read the complaint, and at face value, not an implausible one. Wall Streeters have been concealing assets from their spouses as long as there’s been a such thing as divorce. Another theory, of course, is that Ms. Bingham-Perry is trying to drag the Fairfax case into her divorce to influence the settlement.

Which, not surprisingly, is the point of view Mr. Perry’s counsel is taking.

“It’s a completely frivolous lawsuit,” said attorney Robert Stephen Cohen, noting that the RICO action was filed just before a judge awarded Mr. Perry sole custody of the couple’s two minor children. “It was an attempt to intimidate him. As we speak, papers are being drafted to dismiss the case.”

Neither Mr. James nor Mr. Foster, the plaintiff’s attorneys, responded to email and telephone requests for comment. But there’s at least one part of their client’s case that doesn’t appear to track: “You don’t have a claim until you have a final result,” Mr. Grell told The Observer, which is to say that until a spouse shows damages derived from the concealment of assets, the racketeering law may not apply. But the financial part of the Perrys divorce won’t be contested for several months. “To have a RICO complaint, you almost have to have a crappy divorce result.”