Google search engine co-creator accused of divorce Skullduggery

Skullduggery is not a word one hears often, but it becomes more common in high-asset divorces, where there is the incentive to hide millions in cash and assets. Skullduggery, meaning dishonesty, trickery, or dishonorable proceedings, was alleged in a recent filing stemming from the 2015 divorce of Scott Hassan and Allison Huynh.

While these are not household names, you likely have interacted with Mr. Hassan’s work. He was the principal programmer for Google’s search engine and a robotics entrepreneur. And, Ms. Huynh is a Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur.

The Skullduggery

In her July 28 complaint filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court, she alleged that her former lawyers cheated her out of millions in the divorce. Specifically, she is suing Morrison & Foerster for facilitating an alleged scheme by Mr. Hassan to cheat Ms. Huynh out of her rightful share in ex-couple’s 2015 divorce. She claims that they violated their fiduciary and ethical duty when they picked sides in their divorce, even though the firm represented both parties in separate business matters.

The complaint alleges that even after their family court judge disqualified the firm from advising Mr. Hassan, the firm still represented Mr. Hassan in some of the ex-spouses jointly owned businesses. They then orchestrated a fire-sale of the couple’s jointly owned business assets, which gave Mr. Hassan a $90 million personal tax benefit, at the expense of his ex-wife. And, while she was able to stop the sale, the fees to stop the sale were substantial, over $1 million, which she could not recoup from the dissolution.

Why it matters

As this post-divorce litigation shows, divorces that involve millions in assets and business interests are complicated. Separating these assets is costly and requires professional help from attorneys and financial experts, like accountants because missing even a single asset could mean losing millions.

And, while Connecticut residents may thing they have more time to make these decisions, as of July 6, 2020, all courthouses in the state resumed operations on a full-time basis. This means that, if one is looking into a divorce or in the process, the hiatus is over.