A $Billion Divorce - for the U.S. Government
The U.S. government may be the recipient of billions of dollars in court-ordered restitution under a new divorce decree between imprisoned former Cendant Corp. chairman and Caren Forbes, his wife of 27 years. issued a ruling on Thursday that orders Forbes' ex-wife, to transfer ownership of the couple's homes in Connecticut and Wisconsin back to Mr. Forbes, plus half of the couple's jewelry and art collections. The ruling allows the federal government and Cendant to attach liens to recover almost $3.3 billion to which the court says they are entitled. Forbes, 65, was sentenced in 2007 to more than 12 years in prison for what is considered the largest accounting fraud of the 1990s. He was also ordered to pay restitution for his role in a fraud scheme that cost the travel and real estate company and its investors more than $3 billion. Cendant's brands included Ramada, Howard Johnson, Avis, Coldwell Banker and Century 21. It has since been renamed Avis Budget Group. Federal prosecutors won the right earlier this year to intervene in the Forbes' divorce case, saying the timing of the split suggested they were trying to avoid paying the restitution. They noted that Walter Forbes sold the family's nearly $6 million, 11,000-square-foot to Caren Forbes for $10 in 1999. Caren Forbes, who filed for divorce in Bridgeport Superior Court in January, said their marriage was "irretrievably" broken. Lawyers for both spouses denied prosecutors' allegations. According to the Judge's ruling, Caren Forbes will transfer ownership of the New Canaan property back to her former spouse so it can be attached by Cendant and the U.S. government. She is also returning a chalet-style house that sits on 14 acres in Wisconsin. The courts have allowed Mrs. Forbes to retain a condominium and golf club membership in Vero Beach, Fla., a condo in New Canaan, and half the couple's collection of jewelry and art. The other half is to be sold to help fulfill the restitution order. In the divorce decree, Mr. Walter Forbes was ordered to pay his ex wife $1 per year in spousal maintenance.
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