What’s Involved in Tracing Assets

Asset tracing can be a long, arduous and complex task, requiring a high level of expertise, a reliable network of overseas contacts in unfamiliar jurisdictions, and a precise plan of action where investigations are focused on specific areas of activity.

Results through strategy

Lack of a clear strategy means resources limited by time and funding will be overstretched and ineffective. Result: at best, more expense and constant delays; at worst, pulling out halfway through.

And, of course, any trace has to be worth doing. Does the defendant have any resources worth recovering? An asset tracing pre-litigation report will help here. If yes, goals, time span, and costs need to be agreed between client and investigator – these can be reviewed if necessary – and then the real detective work begins.

What’s involved in asset tracing?

How is asset tracing done? First, we at Blackhawk Investigations draw up a full subject profile of the defendant, sifting through items on- and offline such as audit documents, business cards, email, phone registers, and personnel records, backed up by witness interviews with family members and close associates. Trawls through public records, legal “search and secure” orders that force defendants to produce information, and physical surveillance all play their part in producing a tranche of data ready for detailed analysis.

And if we don’t have access to tell-tale items such as tax records, bank and credit card statements and mortgage/loan files, we’ll concentrate on scrutinising an individual’s lifestyle, their habits and possessions, and public records (eg land registry, company register, vehicle registration register, register of banks accounts, customs records, etc). We also gather anecdotal evidence based on interviews with people who know the defendant.

International asset tracing

Many asset investigations spread overseas, which is why we work closely with local partners, particularly in the EU and eastern Europe. Without their local knowledge of how to negotiate our way through complex foreign legal systems, we could drastically cut our chances of a successful trace. Some jurisdictions are exempt from certain EU legislation (eg Channel Islands), and there may be differences in legal traditions, terminology, muddy communications between jurisdictions, and lack of local expertise and/or mutual trust.

Once we know where and what the assets are, the law takes over. Assets may be spread across a range of countries so we have to decide which jurisdictions are most likely to allow us to freeze the assets so the defendants can’t spirit them away. It’s all about following the most cost-effective route. When assets are legally frozen, it gives us breathing space to focus on working out exactly what we can claim back for our client, which assets are recoverable – and in the case of overseas jurisdictions – what they will allow us to remove and return.

A network of partners and resources

Blackhawk Intelligence works regularly with law firms, insolvency practitioners and private clients on complex tracing enquiries. We have a sound track record in finding, freezing and securing assets both in the UK and globally.

So please  if you want to know more about what’s involved in asset tracing and how we can help your firm, contact us for a no obligation consultation by calling +44 (0)20 8108 9317 or contact a member of the asset tracing team using the secure form on this page.