If you follow the local news, you're probably aware that Oklahoma oil tycoon Harold Hamm and his soon to be ex-wife Sue Ann are currently in the midst of bitter and lengthy divorce trial that may result in the largest divorce judgement in the history of the human race.
HAHAHAHAHAHA. Just kidding.
Even though the last half of that sentence is true, you probably wouldn't know about the trial because:
A) In an effort to mask his own decision-making and protect the interests of gazillionaires, an in-over-his-head administrative law judge has sealed records and banned the media and public from attending the divorce proceedings
B) Our local media, especially The Oklahoman, prefer to protect their friends, allies and advertisers and not update citizens on divorce proceedings that could see billions of dollars in wealth – and control in a locally based NYSE traded company with a $25-billion market cap – possibly change hands.
Fortunately, Oklahoma's premier business news organization, Reuters, has been covering the trial. Yesterday, they published a report showing that Continental Resources has scrubbed and edited language from the Company's website in an effort to diminish Hamm's responsibility for the company's success... and the money he may owe his soon to be ex.
OKLAHOMA CITY – The divorce trial of one of America’s wealthiest men, oil baron Harold Hamm, plays out mostly in secret here at the Oklahoma County Courthouse. For weeks, signs have been taped to the door of Courtroom 121. “CLOSED HEARING,” one reads. The other: “DO NOT ENTER.”But an examination of the website of the company Hamm founded, Continental Resources Inc, reveals part of the billionaire’s legal strategy as he seeks to avoid what could be the largest divorce award in U.S. history.Publicly traded Continental has been revising its corporate annals – in each case diminishing the company’s accomplishments under Hamm’s leadership or changing the dates of key achievements.Downplaying his role in Continental’s success is central to Hamm’s chances of minimizing the financial blow from his divorce, lawyers say. According to state law, if Hamm can show that market conditions – rather than his management prowess – led to Continental’s financial success, he won’t have to share those gains with his estranged wife, Sue Ann. The two never signed a prenuptial agreement.Reporters compared Continental’s current corporate website – www.contres.com – with a version from early this year. The analysis was done using the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, a repository of past web pages.The comparison identified 18 separate items that had been recently deleted, added or revised. The changes included:• Altering a claim that the company was first to “discover” an important oil field near the massive formation known as the Bakken Shale.• Striking all references to Continental being “first” to successfully use or develop new technology that helped it find or pump more oil.• Backdating the company’s hugely profitable decision to shift its exploration focus from natural gas to oil – to before Hamm’s 1988 marriage to Sue Ann. If that decision came prior to the Hamm marriage, then Sue Ann may not be entitled to reap part of the reward.• Adding a date for when Continental moved into its most profitable drilling area. The company’s website now says that the firm moved into the Williston Basin, which straddles North Dakota and Montana, a year before the Hamms were married. The company also deleted an item that said Continental expanded into the Rocky Mountain region in 1993.The company also removed a notable passage from one of its U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, key documents used by investors to evaluate firms. In 2013 and earlier years, the annual proxy statement described Harold Hamm as “one of the driving forces” behind Continental’s success, a man who had “successfully grown the Company through his leadership skills and business judgment.” That passage was dropped in the 2014 proxy.
That's funny. I wonder if Hamm also tried to downplay his role in Continental Energy's success when he was tabbed to be Mitt Romney's energy adviser? You know, because he's obviously humble and everything.
Actually, I really don't have a problem with Hamm doing all this. I'd do the same thing if my ex-wife was trying to get her share of the billions I earn from publishing this website. Hell, I'd probably take it a step further and buy the Internet Wayback Machine for $200,000-million to remove all evidence. I'd also acquire Reuters and send Joshua Schneyer and Brian Grow to cover the Peruvian livestock markets. That will teach them a lesson.