If assets are hidden in multiple jurisdictions, it can be necessary to conduct asset searches of foreign banks or other witnesses residing offshore.  Such  “offshore asset searches” typically involve Letters Rogatory, (a.k.a  Legal Assistance Requests), which may be used to compel foreign banks or other witnesses residing offshore to give:

  1. Details about a financial account / sub-account in various currencies and for all purposes including investments, savings, or bank guarantees;
  2. Account opening papers;
  3. Names of beneficial owners from the time an account was opened;
  4. Names of bank signatories;
  5. The date each bank signatory was registered or added to an account.

In the limited circumstance of a domestic court  exercising in personam jurisdiction over a witness  residing offshore, evidence of hidden assets might also possibly be elicited thorough a domestic subpoena served on said witness.  In First American Corp. v. Price Waterhouse, 154 F.3d 16 (2d Cir. 1998), for example, a domestic subpoena was successfully used against an offshore accounting firm that conducted partnership business in N.Y., as mentioned by N.Y. Civ. Prac. L. & R. 310.

Both the IRS and U.S. Department of Justice have similarly used a domestic “John Doe” summons to uncover evidence about assets hidden offshore by suspected U.S. tax cheats.  As a  June 30, 2008 Department of Justice press release and ABC news article both indicate, a John Doe  Summons was sought in federal court in Miami against UBS AG headquartered in Zurich.  In that case, the federal court in Miami issued a July 1, 2008 Order approving service of the John Doe Summons.  After that Order, UBS AG then provided U.S. authorities with the financial information of seventy UBS account holders.  UBS AG however, did not supply U.S. authorities with any ‘Swiss-based client data”,  according to “Indictments expected in UBS inquiry“.

Copyright 2008-2019 Fred L. Abrams