ICC FraudNet members talk about working for victims in the world of complex fraud, asset tracing and asset recovery.
The biggest misconception people have about complex fraud is
People believe that the criminal justice system is in a position to arrest the villains and from there to give the money back to the victims. It simply doesn’t work this way. Whether fraudsters are caught or not, this is not the way victims are going to obtain redress. If victims want to obtain redress they will have to address the issue themselves with the help of lawyers and professionals who specialize in asset tracing and recovery.
The biggest misconception government officials have about complex fraud is
Often, government officials believe that states can obtain redress (should it be for tax fraud or corruption or embezzlement) with the help of States where the funds are located through mutual assistance requests. This is not an efficient way to proceed. Victimized states have to organize a task force dedicated to recovering assets. And success stories often happen when external lawyers, receivers and forensic consultants are hired.
The greatest challenges in asset tracing and recovery in my part of the world are
In France and, generally in continental Europe, there are no efficient discovery/disclosure mechanisms. This makes our work difficult but there are ways to circumvent this issue. In addition, liquidators/receivers are a small and protected profession which doesn’t allow bankruptcy mechanisms to efficiently bring victims together to obtain redress. Finally, the judiciary is insufficiently aware of these hurdles and as such, is too protective of the privacy of potential fraudsters.
The greatest challenges worldwide are
Fraudsters take advantage of various loopholes in various jurisdictions where they hide the stolen assets. This is what makes asset recovery difficult, and this explains the importance of being able to build a team of specialized asset recovery lawyers and professionals worldwide.
Stéphane Bonifassi, of Lebray & Associés, specializes in representing victims of fraud, and is the executive director of ICC FraudNet, an international network of independent lawyers who are leading civil asset recovery specialists in each country. He is the former president of the criminal law commission of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA) and the former chair of the business crime committee of the International Bar Association (IBA). Bonifassi regularly speaks and writes about issues including corruption, fraud, asset recovery and mutual legal assistance. He contributed to the book, Asset Tracing & Recovery: the FraudNet World Compendium, and his article The Long Arm of the Law – Obtaining Jurisdiction and Evidence in France, was published in International Legal Practitioner.
ICC FraudNet is an international network of independent lawyers who are leading civil asset recovery specialists in each country. Our membership extends to every continent and the world’s major economies, as well as leading offshore wealth havens that have complex bank secrecy laws and institutions where the proceeds of fraud often are hidden. Founded in 2004 by the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the world’s business organization, FraudNet operates under the auspices of the ICC’s London-based Commercial Crime Services unit. FraudNet has been recognized by Chambers Global as the world’s leading asset recovery legal network.