A concept shot of following the money

The process of recovering a business debt or recovering what you’ve lost through fraud and theft requires an understanding of an asset, its value and its recoverability.

When your company is owed a significant sum of money or when you have become a victim of fraud or theft, it is only natural that you will want to recover what you’re owed or what you’ve lost, but this seemingly straightforward process is often met with considerable challenges, which is why the asset tracing experts at Blackhawk Intelligence decided to break down the complexity of asset tracing and explain its finer details in a digestible, comprehensive manner in this article.

Before we begin to understand the processes and procedures that constitute an asset tracing process, first we must define the term ‘asset’ for the purposes of this article.

What is an asset?

In its simplest form, an asset is a possession of value. That is to say, an asset is something owned by an individual or a company, an item that belongs to them and of which they assume ownership and attribute value to. Assets can be categorised as ‘personal’ or ‘business’ related.

With respect to personal assets, they can assume the following denominations: cash, property or land and any structure that is attached to said land, personal property (vehicles, collectables, jewellery etc.) and investments (stocks, annuities, bonds, insurance policies etc.).

With respect to business assets, they can be cash, property, marketable securities (liquid equity and debt securities), accounts receivable (debt owed to the company), any inventory (such as goods available for sale and raw materials) and intellectual property rights.

In essence, an asset is an item or resource that represents value and it may also generate revenue or propagate a benefit for its owner – this is a key point and in most cases, a deciding factor if the service of asset tracing should be undertaken or not.

What is asset tracing?

Following on from this definition of an asset, asset tracing thus becomes locating something of value to an individual or company that has gone missing by way of legal process or negotiated settlement.

Asset tracing is often closely associated to fraud-related investigations such as embezzlement, large-scale corporate fraud and the misappropriation of company funds. It also possesses close-knit ties to debt recovery.

At Blackhawk Intelligence, we have a strong track record working with lawyers and insolvency practitioners to recover hidden assets and preserve evidence in ways that are acceptable in court. In our What is asset tracing post, we explain our asset tracing operations in greater detail, so follow the link if you are interested in finding out more.

What does asset tracing entail?

Before an individual or a company decides to launch an asset tracing campaign against an opponent (who can be a perpetrator or a debtor), it is worth starting a conversation with one of our investigators to identify the followings:

  • What is the asset involved?
  • What is the value of the asset?
  • What is the ownership structure?
  • In what jurisdiction(s) it is located?
  • How liquid is the asset?
  • What are the chances of a recovery?

It must be said that ownership structure is often complex and requires a fair amount of work to peel back the multi-level corporate structures or identify the offshore companies involved.

Once all the information is gathered, we will present the information to you and your solicitors, thereby allowing you to decide:

  • Whether to proceed with litigation or not.
  • What can you do to protect the assets in the meantime to ensure that it can be recovered?
  • What are the requirements for obtaining a freezing injunction even if the asset in question is outside of the jurisdiction?
  • What is the process to engage the opponent and encourage early settlement if necessary?

Jurisdiction can be highly complex and for the recovery efforts to be successful, investigators with local knowledge – possess an understanding of a country’s legal system, culture and business practices – are imperative when it comes to local research and commencing a series of discreet field inquiries.

How asset tracing can help victims of fraud or victims of unresolved business debts

Falling victim and losing a substantial amount of money to fraudsters or being owed a sizeable amount is an emotionally painful experience. At a time when you are vulnerable, it is more critical than ever to protect yourself, your investments, business interests and your reputation.

Speed is key to any successful asset tracing campaign and to recover what is rightfully yours, allowing you to recover from this devastating experience and protect your future financial health. As soon as you become aware that you are a victim of fraud, contact a specialist team like Blackhawk Intelligence to commence a fraud investigation and to initiate asset searching, which will, in turn, increase the chance of recovering lost assets. The reason is many fraudsters have spent months to plan their attack and have ways to cover their tracks. They know how to quickly disseminate or dismantle the asset, making asset recovery difficult.

While asset tracing is undoubtedly challenging, many successful cases we have worked on prove that it is highly possible given the expertise we have. At Blackhawk Intelligence, the searches we conduct are far-reaching, they can include but are not limited to: reviewing bank and securities accounts, transfers of electronic funds, investments, unclaimed estates, correspondence, tax returns, credit agencies, company records, general ledger and balance sheets, court records, criminal records, immigration records, to name but a few. In addition, we also provide a rather traditional but highly effective site attendance service – visiting the opponent’s home or business address to determine whether or not they have sufficient assets to be recovered. Our investigators can visit the property, set-up surveillance, or gain lawful entry, all activities aim to collect evidence and support your case in negotiation or litigation.

Working with an extensive network of contacts, we are also privy to several data sources and channels that typical investigators may not possess. As the process involves a great deal of detail, enlisting the service of a specialist asset tracing investigator like our team at Blackhawk Intelligence is always advisable for the victims of fraud or business debts.

Blackhawk Intelligence can help you to recover the missing asset

With a proven track record of achieving successful asset tracing investigation results and asset recovery, our asset tracing team at Blackhawk Intelligence can offer specialist services tailored to your specific circumstances. We’re able to give you an indication of whether your case is worth pursuing, as well as providing bespoke advice as to the pathways and channels by which we can best trace the assets involved.

If you’d like to speak to a member of our team about asset tracing, please reach out over the +44 (0)20 8108 9317 or contact us online.

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