An American insurance mogul's $9.4 million Kiwi money stash has been frozen by the Auckland High Court as part of a divorce fight with his wife.

Leopoldo Castillo and Gilda Castillo, both originally from Venezuela, have been married for almost three decades.

They started out with little but began living a life of luxury after Leopoldo's insurance businesses generated a considerable fortune.

The couple had properties in Venezuela, Florida and New York City and owned planes, yachts and expensive cars.


"We were massively wealthy," Gilda said in court documents.

But the marriage was not without its difficulties and in 2011 when Leopoldo's US visa was revoked, Gilda stayed in Florida with their five children.

Gilda, according to a High Court decision released this week, has also alleged her husband maintained mistresses and illegitimate children and was "controlling and abusive".

As part of their divorce fight, a Florida court last November made orders preventing Leopoldo from disposing of any property.

Two days later, according to a decision from a New Zealand judge, Leopoldo transferred US$6.5m ($9.4m) to a New Zealand-based trust.

When Leopoldo attempted to get the Kiwi trustees to transfer nearly all of the money to Panama, they refused - citing the Florida court orders.

Gilda claims that her husband has cut off her maintenance and sold close to $100m worth of assets.

She says that when the Florida judge made the orders, her husband had a Palm Beach property, a New York apartment and a Gulf Stream G450 on the market.


Earlier this month, Gilda went to the Auckland High Court seeking a freezing order over the $9.4m held by the New Zealand trust.

In considering the bid, Justice Matthew Downs said there must be sufficient prospect that Gilda's action would succeed in Florida.

Despite opposition from Leopoldo's lawyers, he considered the threshold was met.

"She and Mr Castillo have been married for a long time. They had little money until Mr Castillo's business ventures flourished. Mrs Castillo is, on the available evidence, entitled to an equal share of that success," Justice Downs said.

The judge considered this and other limbs of the legal test for freezing orders were met and put the money on ice.