Laundry List Post:ImageGovernmental authorities follow money trails in order to interdict assets hidden by narco-traffickers; money launderers; Ponzi schemers; tax fraudsters & other determined criminals. During your asset search, you can similarly follow a money trail to track assets which have been hidden from you. You might detect a money trail by scrutinizing data

Photo Of A Red Flag

If a divorcing spouse hides marital assets there usually are red flags.  Red flags are also often found when assets have been hidden by tax fraudsters, Ponzi schemers, bankruptcy debtors, money launderers & narco-traffickers.  This 16th post in the “Divorce & Hidden Money ” series examines the red flags.

Red flags indicating assets might have

Photo Of A Money TrailWhen vast sums of money are hidden in a bank account there is usually an electronic trace or other kind of money trail.  A skilled investigator may help detect the money trail, as suggested by my 2010 post Secreting Assets Without A Border Trace.  The post quoted “Roger” a former foreign intelligence officer who was working as a private investigator.  At the post, Roger discussed some asset concealment methods and investigative techniques for following a money trail.  As these concealment methods and investigative techniques are still being used, the relevant part of Secreting Assets Without A Border Trace is featured below.  This is also the 4th post in my series about what private investigators can and cannot do legally when searching for assets.¹

As a consequence of his U.S.-based Ponzi scheme, Bill the investment adviser was indicted for alleged violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1956 (money laundering); 26 U.S.C. § 7201 (tax fraud); 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341 and 2 (mail fraud); 15 U.S.C. §§ 78j(b) and 78ff(a) (securities fraud); and 15 U.S.C. §§ 80b-6 and 80b-17 (investment adviser fraud). The critical question now was: what had happened to the $35 million dollars lost by the damaged investors in Bill’s Ponzi scheme? After Bill insisted he dissipated this $35 million by gambling and on cocaine, prostitutes, etc., federal agents interdicted $1 million U.S. dollars hidden in a bedroom wall at Bill’s California home.

Among the other items the agents seized during their search of Bill’s home, were Bill’s passport, desktop computer, cell phone, bank statements and jewelry store receipts.  Some of these items revealed that Bill laundered $7.5 million of the damaged investors’ money through a nominee bank account opened in the name of a Nevada shell company.

Bill had eventually withdrawn this $7.5 million to purchase diamonds and other portable valuable commodities at Nevada jewelry stores He next traveled as an airline passenger to Zurich, Switzerland, according to his passport. To date, the only recovery from Bill’s Ponzi scheme has been the $1 million once hidden in his bedroom wall. Given all of the above, “Roger” explained how investigators could try to determine whether Bill had secreted any of the $35 million in a foreign bank account:
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“Swiss Banks, Smuggling & Other Asset Recovery Issues” will be presented from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM on April 18, 2013 in New York City, at the New York County Lawyers’ Association.  Jack Blum, Esq., Advocate Robert Fiecther of the Des Gouttes & Partners law firm located in Geneva, Switzerland and Fred L. Abrams, Esq. are speaking at this program.  To attend, please contact the New York County Lawyers’ Association at telephone no. (212) 267-6646.  The program’s description and agenda are as follows:

In its 2007 National Money Laundering Strategy report, the U.S. government estimated that as much as $36 billion annually from just the former Soviet Union, was being secretly transferred through U.S. bank accounts and U.S. shell companies.  Besides using U.S. bank accounts and shell companies, kleptocrats, Ponzi schemers, divorcing spouses, etc., can of course conceal assets by parking them in Swiss or other foreign bank accounts.

This program analyzes how bank secrecy laws, multiple jurisdictions and smuggling are utilized in schemes to conceal vast sums of money. The program discusses mutual legal assistance treaty relief and using letters rogatory as asset recovery tools.  It mentions ways whistleblowers or other tipsters may help sniff out these monies and the difficulty lawyers face in dealing with whistleblowers either as clients or as tipsters.

One of the program’s speakers Jack Blum, Esq., will examine the IRS Whistleblower Program and the ethical concerns gatekeepers such as lawyers and accountants have in reporting illegal behavior in both the civil and criminal contexts.  Mr. Blum served as associate counsel, or assistant counsel, or special counsel to three U.S. Senate committees or subcommittees; and has been quoted by or mentioned in thousands of newspaper and magazine articles around the world.  He was also an expert witness for the U.S. Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service.

Mr. Blum’s select clients include Heinrich Kieber, who blew the whistle on customers with offshore accounts at Liechtenstein’s private bank, the LGT Group.  Mr. Kieber sold his whistleblowing tips to the German government, which used them to track suspected tax cheats.  Mr. Blum too represented former Julius Baer Swiss banker Rudolf Elmer, who supplied tips about suspected tax evaders to both WikiLeaks and the IRS.

Another one of the program’s speakers is Robert Fiechter, who is a partner at the Des Gouttes & Partners law firm of Geneva Switzerland, founded in 1834.  Advocate Fiechter also serves as a Deputy Judge at the Court of Justice of Geneva, an appellate court.  He too served as a substitute criminal judge and is the Deputy Secretary of the Supervisory Board of the Swiss Bank’s Code of Conduct.  During the program, Advocate Fiechter will describe the ins and outs of Swiss bank secrecy laws.  He will additionally review the legal remedies available for recovering assets hidden in Switzerland and elsewhere across the globe.


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The September 2009 Asset Search Blog article “Money Laundering By Minneapolis Money Managers?”, raised the issue of whether Associated Bank had violated federal anti-money laundering regulations.  This article discussed whether an account opened at Associated Bank in the name of Crown Forex, LLC, had been used to launder Ponzi scheme proceeds.  It pointed

A StarTribune article says that Trevor Cook’s currency program fraud was the second-largest Ponzi scheme in Minnesota history. The article too mentions that prosecutors have accused one of the scheme’s participants, Gerald Durand, of a murder-for-insurance plot.  The suspected plot surfaced at the “Government’s Motion For An Evidentiary Hearing Regarding Durand“, filed December

The name of a whistleblower is reportedly leaked and concealing assets in Luxembourg:

Secreting Ponzi scheme proceeds and the conviction of three former money managers:

  1. Secreting Assets Without A Border Trace” highlights methods determined criminals employ to conceal their assets from domestic authorities and everyone else.  It supplies the fact pattern of a securities fraudster who conceivably could have concealed Ponzi scheme proceeds by utilizing offshore

The U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations August 1, 2006 report on offshore tax haven abuses explains that assets can be hidden with the assistance of  “lawyers, brokers, bankers, offshore service providers, and others” offering offshore asset protection.  Seattle lawyer Mary Simon appears to have especially provided offshore asset protection services that