Although I have many asset search tips for you, three stand out if you are trying to detect a large amount of hidden money or other high value assets.  My asset search tips are that you recognize: competing claimants; compartmentalization and laundering links.


My first asset search tip is that you see if there are claimants searching for the same money you are (i.e. competing claimants). Competing claimants can be a domestic or foreign tax authority; prosecutors seeking asset forfeiture; judgment creditors; court-appointed receivers; etc. Competing claimants may possess a priority claim over the hidden money. Competing claimants may have a greater legal right than you, to recover the hidden money. They sometimes hamper your ability to recover hidden money. If there are competing claimants in your case, you may have to change your asset recovery strategy.


My second asset search tip is you should look for compartmentalization because it can be used to hide money from you. One former intelligence officer I know compartmentalizes his cell phone calls as a countermeasure to anyone tracking the calls.  The former intelligence officer dedicates one cell phone for incoming calls and dedicates another for outgoing calls. My post “Compartmentalization & An Asset Search” gives another example of compartmentalization. It was about a divorcing husband who hid money via a “back-to-back-loan” (i.e. a loan in which the lender and the borrower are the same).

The husband alleged he was broke as he had defaulted on an arm’s length loan from an offshore bank. The loan however was “back-to-back” as the husband was both the lender and borrower of the loan. Meanwhile, no one knew this as the husband compartmentalized his money transfers related to the back-to-back loan. The husband compartmentalized by transferring his money through multiple jurisdictions such as Germany and Switzerland; and by using two different offshore banks.


A person may hide large amounts of money by moving the money through laundering links part of a money laundering circuit. Therefore, my third asset search tip is that you should learn to spot laundering links. Laundering links can be people; bank accounts; shell companies; existing businesses; trusts; foundations; charities; etc. You might possibly sniff out a laundering link by employing private investigators &/or forensic accountants; using legal tools like letters rogatory &/or subpoenas; etc. Below is a chart which shows how used car dealerships; exchange houses; and Lebanese banks were used as laundering links in a money laundering circuit which washed money for Hizballah, drug dealers and others.


Money Laundering Link Chart Courtesy of U.S. Treasury.

Copyright 2019 Fred L. Abrams