A successful asset search often requires gathering financial intelligence.  One financial investigator sought financial intelligence by doing “trash pulls”.  This investigator did trash pulls at an attorney’s home to elicit intelligence about the attorney’s client.  During one of these trash pulls, an envelope bearing the name of a climate-controlled art storage facility was discovered.  This discovery then led to the interdiction of a valuable painting hidden by the attorney’s client at the art storage facility.

A second financial investigator gathered financial intelligence by searching for leads provided by an adversary’s: passport, airline frequent flyer statements, country club membership, credit cards, phone bills and other records.  A third investigator was able to detect an adversary’s foreign bank account by acquiring financial intelligence from an offshore check printing company.  In addition to the foregoing, eliciting financial intelligence can involve tools ranging from human intelligence to a variety of discovery devices.

Human Intelligence

Human intelligence can be the only practical way to uncover some sophisticated asset concealment schemes.  The concealment scheme analyzed at “Money Laundering, Marital Assets & Divorce“, was in fact detected solely because of human intelligence.  “An Asset Search, Tax Fraud & Divorce” meanwhile, described an effort to access financial information via human intelligence.  It outlined how “Brian”, (a former high-ranking official at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, who had earlier been an IRS special agent), sought human intelligence about a divorcing husband.  Brian did this by interviewing a cooperating witness / business associate of the divorcing husband.

Discovery Devices

Another way to try to elicit financial intelligence and locate assets is to utilize discovery devices like depositions, interrogatories, etc.  Under limited circumstances, a court might even permit discovery via the physical inspection of an adversary’s home or place of business.  The court for example, allowed the receiver in the case of Ponzi schemer Trevor Cook, to perform this type of physical inspection.

The Cook receiver had successfully argued in court, that Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(a)(1)(c) & Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(a)(2), provided for an inspection of Mr. Cook’s Apple Valley, Minnesota home.  The receiver then seized receivership estate assets including three automobiles and 31 watches, at the Apple Valley inspection.

Likely more significant, was the receiver’s recovery of over sixty computers and other electronic media.  These were eventually forensically examined in an attempt to access additional financial information.  The receiver had also issued more than 250 domestic subpoenas, which too might have provided financial intelligence.

If cross-border elements / multiple jurisdictions are however used to conceal assets, then letters rogatory can be issued pursuant to the Hague Evidence Convention (20: Convention of 18 March 1970 on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters Hague Convention).

Letters rogatory, (a.k.a. “letters of request” or “legal assistance requests”), may help access financial intelligence possessed by foreign bank or other foreign witnesses, as explained at “An Asset Search With Letters Rogatory“.  They are sometimes even available in jurisdictions where there are strong bank secrecy laws, as this sanitized / changed copy of a Swiss letter rogatory indicates:

(Click Above To Read The Complete Letter Rogatory)

(Last Edited November 15, 2011)

Copyright 2010-2012 Fred L. Abrams