This 17th post in the “Divorce & Hidden Money” series details how compelled consent forms are sometimes used to gather confidential foreign bank account records. In Doe v. United States, 487 U.S. 201, 108 S. Ct. 2341, 101 L. Ed. 2d 184 (1988), the Court talked about using these forms in connection
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ Swiss Leaks project, (“the Project”), arises out of whistleblower tips from Mr. Hervé Falciani who worked as a software technician at HSBC in Geneva. During 2008, Mr. Falciani reportedly supplied the French government with the Swiss bank account information of more than 100,000 HSBC customers from over 200 countries. The true beneficial owners of these accounts range from foreign dictators to American actors.
The Project is outlined by the article “HSBC Scandal Heightens Calls for Tougher Bank Oversight.” The article mentions “[t]he use of secret accounts and shell corporations to hide cash and its account holders is hardly confined to HSBC. Another banking giant caught engaging in this was Switzerland’s UBS. And there have been others.” According to reports published today by the Guardian, CNN &/or the BBC, Swiss police raided HSBC offices in Geneva, Switzerland. The police raids could be based on suspected violations of Art. 305bis Swiss Criminal Code: Money Laundering (English Translation) & other anti-money laundering laws.
The police raids and the Project bring to the fore the problem of money laundering through Swiss bank accounts. There are however, some Swiss reforms in this area. The reforms are outlined at an e-mail Swiss counsel sent me last week. The e-mail emphasizes there are “fundamental changes affecting the Swiss financial markets” and says “the business model of the banks is changing towards more transparency on tax matters.” Part of the e-mail is reproduced below and its key points are:
Continue Reading Swiss Leaks Project & Police Raids Raise The Issue Of Swiss Reform
The City of Zürich has a website that says “[a]s the largest city in Switzerland, Zürich is the economic motor of the surrounding region and indeed the whole country.” This 13th post in the “Divorce & Hidden Money” series examines what a divorcing spouse might do if marital assets are concealed in a Zürich bank account or elsewhere in Switzerland. The post was first published at The Asset Search Blog during 2008 and the post still provides up-to-date information. The post analyzes ways one can interdict bank accounts & other assets hidden in Switzerland. It quotes Swiss counsel who describes using criminal law tools; attaching (i.e. freezing) assets; seeking letters rogatory; & tipping the Swiss Money Laundering Reporting Office (“MROS”):
“As you probably know, Switzerland does not follow the common law doctrine. We do not adhere to the institution of discovery. The usual tools available to a claimant are therefore the filing of a criminal complaint, which is actually the most efficient way to get past the banking secrecy. Access to the information will be granted only if someone can be indicted. In exceptional circumstances a broader access to the information collected within the frame of the criminal investigation can be granted on a discretionary basis.
If the claimant does not wish to resort to the criminal law tools, he has the option to file an attachment. In order to obtain an attachment, the claimant must show that his case presents a close enough connection to Switzerland. He must establish that the assets are located in Switzerland and he must make a summary statement of his claim.
It is usually required that a guarantee equivalent to 10% of the claim be filed; in certain circumstances, the payment of a guarantee requirement may be avoided especially where the claimant initially filed a criminal complaint under which the same assets have been attached by the criminal judge. The combination of a criminal and civil attachment is recommended in some instances.
Continue Reading Divorce & Hidden Money: How Does A Divorcing Spouse Recover Assets Concealed In A Swiss Bank Account?
Mr. Pascal Gossin is the head of Switzerland’s Mutual Legal Assistance Unit, (“the Unit”), which is part of the Federal Office of Justice. Mr. Gossin was a fellow speaker at the Carmelite Chambers International Fraud & Asset Recovery Conference, which I attended last month.
If the Unit suspects a dictator or other Politically…
If you are a divorcing spouse, judgment creditor or anyone else who believes they may need to do a bank search to locate hidden assets parked offshore, below is a discussion of how individuals sometimes hide their assets and what legal remedies may be available.
Beneficial owners around the world are able to secretly transfer assets across international borders. As explained herein, they do this by conducting offshore banking through multiple jurisdictions; nominee incorporation services; and/or gatekeepers like lawyers. Various legal remedies are however, usually available for finding hidden assets transferred offshore. These remedies may even include seeking a court order directing a Swiss or other offshore bank to perform a bank search and disclose bank customer information.
Continue Reading Assets Hidden Offshore & A Bank Search To Find Them