A multi-billion dollar asset recovery effort, spanning more than 130 countries, has been in process for years to recover funds for the victims, with actions in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and several Latin American and Caribbean countries. It is an excellent example of how advances in laws, search tools and international teamwork now support the process of tracking down and recovering stolen assets.
If you have been defrauded or obtained a judgment that you cannot seem to collect, do not lose hope. There are steps you can take to regain your funds.
Stolen assets, unrecoverable judgments, and wealth stolen from governments due to corruption on a grand scale have existed from the beginning of time. Nevertheless, it is not until the last decade or so that the legal profession has realized and implemented measures to prosecute, recover, and distribute available assets to victims.
Since the Great Recession a decade ago, anti-corruption legislation has been adopted in various countries along with the development of adequate multijurisdictional tools. As a result, the ability to pursue these cases has increased, and is likely to continue to grow. While there are many who purport to be experts in this field, victims need to be wary of whom they employ to prosecute their claims.
Of course, as new anti-corruption laws are enacted and additional tools become available, fraudsters adapt and find other ways to defraud victims and the system itself. It is imperative for specialists in this area to attempt to stay one step ahead of them, a challenging but not impossible task.
Luckily, legislatures, governments and civil parties have finally awoken to this reality and are attempting to put measures in place to protect victims and to assist in the prosecuting of cases of this nature.
One example of the type of laws that must be taken into consideration in this field is the ability to obtain information to trace funds, a key issue in all fraud cases. The United States, United Kingdom and European jurisdictions have various legal tools that may assist in attempting to gather the type of information needed to effectively trace defrauded funds.
Similarly, new laws regarding issues like the registration of the ultimate beneficial owner of certain assets, as well as tools to uncover these owners in fraud cases continue to evolve. The interplay with new privacy legislation like the GDPR in the European Union, is a developing consideration.
The bottom line is that this is a dynamic and growing area of law that presents many opportunities for recovery to those who have been victims of such crimes. That said, victims should be very careful in how they proceed lest they be re-victimized by counsel who cannot deliver a recovery.
Annette C. Escobar focuses her practice on fraud, asset recovery, and international insolvency as a partner at Sequor Law, a member of ICC FraudNet, a global network of specialists.