An Oklahoma oilman’s ex is having her say about why she cashed his $974.8 million check in an ongoing divorce – and why she’s not ending her fight for a larger share of what she says they amassed together.
“I will not dismiss my appeal and do not feel that my right to appeal should be denied because I have accepted, in the interim, a small portion of the estate that we built over more than two decades,” Sue Ann Arnall says in a statement shared with PEOPLE.
The tussle between Arnall, who is an attorney, and her ex-husband, Harold Hamm, the founder and CEO of oil driller Continental Resources, stems from a judge’s order in November that awarded her a settlement worth about $995 million.
Hamm’s attorney labeled that settlement fair and equitable. Arnall’s attorney countered that sentiment, saying the award of cash, property and business assets equaled less than 6 percent of the couple’s accumulated wealth.
The handwritten check offered by Hamm on Jan. 6 – he’d already paid about $23 million to Arnall during the divorce proceedings – was meant to stop interest from building on the balance he owed while her appeal progressed.
Reports that she initially rejected Hamm’s check “are not accurate,” Arnall clarified. Instead, she wanted to wait out the results of a court hearing that day before putting the money in a bank, which she later did, prompting Hamm’s legal team to surmise she’d dropped her appeal.
Not quite. She took the money on the table now, she says, rather than let her ex-husband control her access to it any further.
“The court’s rulings on Tuesday left me in a position where I would receive no distributions of the marital estate during the appeal, which could last numerous years, and would be required to ‘show need’ in order to obtain temporary support,” she says.
“I believe it is unfair that any woman’s property be controlled by a former husband,” she says. “During our 26-year marriage, and during the nearly three years this case has been pending, Hamm has had complete control and full use of the assets we built together, while I have patiently waited for access. I was simply not willing to wait several more years while the appeal is pending.”
She adds: “I still believe that the trial court’s award was not fair and equitable.” Her decision to cash the check, she says, followed “much consideration and discussion with my adult daughters,” and was made “in the interest of my family, my privacy and my future as a business owner and philanthropist.”
“Although this emotionally draining appeal may continue for as long as five years, as of today I have the freedom to have a positive impact on our community, support my family, and regain my independence.”