Annette C. Escobar selected as Who’s Who Legal Thought Leader

Who’s Who Legal: Thought Leaders 2018 brings together the insight, expertise and wisdom of some of the world’s foremost lawyers in a single book.

Through interviews with the practitioners themselves, our Thought Leaders guide aims to shine a light on what makes these lawyers the apogee of the profession. They are worthy of special mention owing not only to their vast expertise and experience advising on some of the world’s most significant and cutting-edge legal matters, but also their ability to innovate, inspire, and go above and beyond to deliver for their clients.

 

Annette C. Escobar

Biography:

Who’s Who Legal Asset Recovery: Lawyers

Annette C Escobar, a partner at Sequor Law, focuses her practice on fraud, asset recovery, and international insolvency.  She advises and has extensive experience representing international corporate and individual clients, including receivers, trustees, and others, in cases pending before state, federal, and appellate courts in the US. She also has experience in representing individuals and corporate entities in complex international business disputes arising from Latin American, Caribbean, and European operations, as well as enforcement of foreign judgments. She currently also counsels the Stanford International Bank liquidators in the second largest Ponzi scheme in history.

Ms Escobar, who has obtained a certification as a certified financial crime specialist, has been recognised as a “top lawyer” by South Florida Legal Guide. Ms Escobar also often writes and speaks on financial fraud, international bankruptcy, and asset recovery. She is a co-author of a monthly asset recovery in international insolvency column in the Global Restructuring Review; “Enforcement of Foreign Country Judgments in the United States”, written as a chapter in Asset Tracing and Recovery: the Fraudnet World Compendium (edited by B Klose, 2009); and “A Practical Guide to Enforcement of Foreign Country Money Judgments in the United States”, written as a chapter in International Litigation Strategies and Practices (published by the ABA section of international law, edited by B Legum 2005).  She has spoken on these topics in various jurisdictions, including the United States, Italy, Colombia, and the British Virgin Islands.

WWL says: Annette Escobar impresses numerous nominees with her considerable experience and expertise handling financial fraud and asset recovery for corporate clients and financial institutions.

Edward H. Davis, Jr., selected as a Who’s Who Legal Thought Leader

Who’s Who Legal: Thought Leaders 2018 brings together the insight, expertise and wisdom of some of the world’s foremost lawyers in a single book.

This year’s edition features Q&As with 67 eminent practitioners across 22 practice areas. These lawyers obtained the highest number of nominations from peers, corporate counsel and other market sources in our most recent research cycle.

Edward H. Davis, Jr.

Questions and Answers:

Who’s Who Legal Thought Leaders: Asset Recovery

Edward H Davis, Jr, a founding shareholder of the international law firm Astigarraga Davis, heads the firm’s asset recovery and financial fraud group which represents victims of serious fraud and grand corruption including governments, corporations, insolvency practitioners and individuals by investigating and prosecuting civil fraud and asset recovery actions.

Who’s Who Legal: Asset Recovery has recognised Davis as the global Asset Recovery Lawyer of the Year from 2013 to 2016, and his firm as Asset Recovery Firm of the Year for 2015 and 2016.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO SPECIALISE IN ASSET RECOVERY AND FRAUD WORK?

I enjoy representing victims and helping them level the playing field with those that prey on them. As a result, I decided to focus my practice on the representation of individual, corporate and governmental victims of fraud throughout the world. I also enjoy learning about other legal cultures, and asset recovery and fraud work is a specialised form of international litigation. Lastly, I enjoy the “hunt” for those that have committed fraud and their ill-gotten gains.

WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO FOUND YOUR OWN FIRM?

My partners and I were seeking a better way to serve our clients in response to new factors in the industry affecting both the legal profession and our clients. Having a specialised boutique allows us to employ our “power of focus” concept and truly focus deeply on our practice groups and developments in the law to a degree that might not be attainable in a more generalised platform. Also, our boutique setting is nimbler and more cost-effective than that of many other firms, and allows us to take cases on alternative fee structures.

WHAT MAKES FOR A SUCCESSFUL ASSET RECOVERY SPECIALIST?

The actions taken in the first days following the discovery of a fraud often will determine whether the misappropriated funds or other property are ultimately recovered. Our team responds quickly to such fraud by using emergency injunctions, expedited depositions, subpoenas of bank records, our vast connections to experienced professionals and investigators around the world to seek to either locate the assets before they are dissipated or to investigate and bring claims against third parties who assisted the fraudsters.

WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE MATTER THAT YOU’VE WORKED ON TO DATE?

Stanford International Bank, Ltd was an Antiguan bank that sold phony certificates of deposit to 21,000 depositors, which resulted in the second-largest Ponzi scheme in history by causing losses to over 27,000 depositor-victims from around the world. Estimated losses by depositor-victims exceeded $5 billion.

WHAT CHALLENGES ARE FACING PRACTITIONERS AT THE MOMENT AND HOW IS YOUR FIRM LOOKING TO MEET THESE OBSTACLES?

The pressure from clients to keep legal fees and costs as low as possible continues to be one of the challenges affecting practitioners. This can be a problem because of the crisis-like atmosphere in which successful asset recovery practitioners function. We combat these challenges by working closely with investigators, computer forensic experts, foreign lawyers, forensic accountants, law enforcement and other experts. These professionals are key resources in a rapid response to a discovered fraud which can lead to escalated costs (such as cost bonds) which would not be the norm in another practice area. Our firm has been meeting this particular challenge by offering alternative fee arrangements when historically the standard was solely hourly fee billing, and by working with litigation funders that assist victims of fraud who usually don’t have the resources to fight the fraudster after the fraud.

DO YOU ANTICIPATE THAT THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY’S INCREASING READINESS TO TACKLE CORRUPTION WILL LEAD TO GROWING INTEREST IN ASSET RECOVERY WORK IN THE WIDER LEGAL MARKET?

Yes, as technology continues to get more sophisticated, the speed of the movement of money throughout the world will likewise increase. This, combined with a growing awareness that national borders are no more an impediment to recovery than they are to the fraudster who moves across those same borders, will likely result in the interest in asset recovery work growing into a larger distinct legal market. We already see firms forming asset recovery departments and groups which is a signal that that the market is recognising this distinct practice area as an exciting new offering to their clients.

HOW IMPORTANT ARE ORGANISATIONS SUCH THE ICC COMMERCIAL CRIMES SERVICES’ FRAUDNET NETWORK IN INTERNATIONAL ASSET RECOVERY WORK?

Organizations like the ICC’s FraudNet are very important and necessary in the international asset recovery work. Fraudsters work using their own networks of cronies and those that provide them assistance – legal and otherwise. So it is essential that counter-networks operate at a high level of coordination to defeat them. They also are powerful change agents that raise awareness and educate fraud victims worldwide about the methods that can be deployed to assist them in their fight to recover their assets and damages.

AS HEAD OF THE FIRM’S ASSET RECOVERY AND FINANCIAL FRAUD PRACTICE, IN WHAT WAYS ARE YOU ATTEMPTING TO DISTINGUISH YOUR GROUP FROM OTHER COMPETITORS IN THE MARKET?

I work on creating innovative solutions. I’ve helped develop and expand various creative discovery and asset seizure methodologies to obtain recoveries for our clients. Additionally, I’ve both led and worked collaboratively on various civil asset recovery teams – another concept I helped pioneer – on cross-border asset recovery engagements. Having a strong commercial litigation and insolvency background, my team and I have championed and coordinated asset recovery efforts between civil and criminal systems as a means to penetrate and defeat complex opaque asset hiding structures used by fraudsters. I was recently mentioned by Latin Lawyer (2016) for my efforts in the area of asset recovery. Lastly, as a result of our efforts, I was also recognised as the global Asset Recovery Lawyer of the Year by Who’s Who Legal: Asset Recovery, in 2013 (and again in 2014, 2015 and 2016); my firm was recognised as the Asset Recovery Firm of the Year in 2015 and 2016 by the same publication.

Panama Papers update: progress and impediments

Scandalous revelations of suspicious financial activity exposed by the Panama Papers have toppled political leaders, induced regulatory reforms and prompted greater cooperation from Panama itself towards international efforts to combat tax evasion. But Edward H Davis Jr and
 Andres H Sandoval would like to see more headway in the area of asset recovery.

In April 2016 the Suddeutsche Zeitung released the ground-breaking publication covering the ‘Panama Papers’ – a massive leak of 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian Mossack Fonseca firm and its affiliates, formerly the world’s fourth-largest provider of offshore incorporation services. Shortly thereafter, due largely to the efforts of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), limited information extracted from the Panama Papers was digitised and disseminated to the public in the searchable Offshore Leaks Database maintained on the ICIJ’s website. [1] The impact of the Panama Papers leak in the political, journalistic, investigative and financial arenas is plain to see. However, well over a year later, the Panama Papers fervour is only now creeping into the asset recovery arena. That it has taken this long to arrive is frustrating, but perhaps predictable in light of evidentiary concerns and the inherent difficulty in commencing litigation. Regardless, this signals the next step in combating tax evasion, corruption, fraud and money laundering in the wake of the historic leak.

Facts and figures

The global effect and pervasiveness of the Panama Papers leak is unrivalled. The 11.5 million leaked documents, dating back nearly 40 years, contain information on more than 214,000 offshore entities, in more than 200 jurisdictions, created by Mossack Fonseca. Major financial institutions alone drove the creation of nearly 15,600 offshore entities. Of these financial institutions, HSBC and its affiliates were responsible for the creation of more than 2,300 offshore corporate vehicles. Others, such as Banque J Safra, UBS AG and Societe Generale, were not far behind.

The Panama Papers also exposed 140 politicians from over 50 countries to charges of bribery and corruption for allegedly improper ties to offshore corporate vehicles in no fewer than 21 financial havens. As a result, 14 current and former heads of state as well as over 30 current and former politicians or public figures have come under scrutiny by governmental bodies. Several top government and corporate officials have cracked under the pressure, including, notably, the former Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davia Gunnlaugsson, who resigned just days after the initial media coverage of the Panama Papers leak. Other political figures have been faced with high- profile investigations, including Argentina’s Mauricio Macri, Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko and Pakistan’s former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif.

These investigations are bearing fruit. In late July 2017, Pakistan’s Supreme Court deemed Sharif unfit to be a member of parliament for reasons of dishonesty and corruption. The Supreme Court’s decision is the culmination of months of proceedings sparked by the Panama Papers leak, which linked Sharif’s family members to purchases of luxury real estate in London through offshore corporate vehicles. Further, on 31 July 2017, the National Accountability Bureau, Pakistan’s top anti-corruption unit, announced it would file formal corruption charges against Sharif, his children, son-in-law and the former Pakistani Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar.

Beneficial effects

Among the seemingly more positive effects, the Panama Papers leak has fuelled a global push towards transparency and accessibility of information regarding the ultimate beneficial owners (UBOs) of opaque offshore entities and accounts. Just weeks after the leak, the United States executive administration under former President Barack Obama announced it would implement regulatory reform to increase financial transparency and combat tax evasion, corruption and money laundering. Among the various measures, in May 2016, the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) promulgated new rules on customer due diligence requirements, which require financial institutions to identify any natural person beneficially owning more than 25% of, or otherwise controlling, the institution’s legal entity customers. Similar initiatives are being pushed in the United Kingdom, Germany and others in the G20 group. Only time will tell if these initiatives prove to be effective or are just window dressing.

Cleaning the backyard

The Panama Papers leak has also exerted pressure on countries previously resistant to increased financial transparency – namely, Panama. In 2016, Panama’s Vice President Isabel de Saint Malo pledged Panama’s willingness to sign the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters – an agreement developed jointly by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and the Council of Europe to combat tax evasion through the automatic sharing of residents’ financial information. Holding fast to that pledge, on 3 March 2017, Panama deposited with the OECD its instrument of ratification of the Convention, which came into force in Panama on 1 July 2017. Panama has also signed an information-sharing treaty with Mexico and continues its negotiation of similar agreements with Spain, Italy, Germany, the UK and Switzerland. As of 12 June 2017, the OECD reports 112 jurisdictions currently participating in the Convention.

Delayed recovery

Where the Panama Papers have had much less impact than was originally hoped for is in the asset recovery arena. Following the leak, early commentators predicated litigation in the financial havens themselves, such as the British Virgin Islands, Jersey, Hong Kong and Panama, as well as financial centres that may house assets or UBOs, such as Switzerland, the UK and the US. However, now over one year later, this litigation has largely yet to be seen. This is disappointing in light of estimates that as much as 8% of the world’s financial wealth (approximately US$7.6 trillion) is held in financial havens. Further, according to Gabriel Zucman, economist, professor and author of The Hidden Wealth of Nations, as much as 80% of that hidden wealth is not reported to the tax authorities of any country. Equally astounding, the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative – a partnership between the World Bank Group and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to promote international efforts to end financial havens for corrupt funds and prevent the laundering of the proceedings of corruption – estimates that up to US$40 billion per year is stolen by corrupt public officials around the world.

Those most affected by this hidden wealth are the citizens of the governments susceptible to tax evasion, corruption and the illicit diversion of funds, as well as the victims of fraud where the opaque corporate structures are used to hide the proceeds of these crimes. As a result, these jurisdictions often suffer from undeveloped infrastructure, failing health facilities and inadequate educational institutions. While it may be no less important to investigate and expose the corrupt actors that prey on these governments, there must also be a focus on and concerted effort to recover the value that has been secreted in financial havens and often elsewhere.

A start

There may be signs of change, however. On 14 July 2017, the US Department of Justice commenced a civil forfeiture proceeding against approximately US$144 million in assets – primarily, a luxury yacht and Manhattan real estate-allegedly representing the proceeds of corruption, bribery and money laundering. The allegations concern prominent businessmen Kolawole Akanni Aluko and Olajide Omokore, and Nigeria’s former Minister for Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke. The US alleges in part that Aluko and Omokore purchased, luxury real estate in London and high-end furniture for Alison-Madueke’s benefit and, in return, Alison-Madueke used her influence to steer lucrative state oil contracts to companies ultimately owned or controlled by Aluko and Omokore. The ICIJ’s Will Fitzgibbon first reported in July 2016 on the links between Aluko, Omokore and Alison-Madueke as detailed in the Panama Papers. This led to investigations in Nigeria, the UK and elsewhere.

Evidence and privilege concerns

So, what is the reason for the tardy arrival of the Panama Papers’ impact in the asset recovery arena? Firstly, a lack of competent evidence. The ICIJ’s Offshore Leaks Qatabase largely, if not entirely, lacks source documentation. The same is true of the ICIJ’s database for the ‘Swiss Leaks’ and the ‘Luxembourg Leaks’ in previous years (other than documents expressly approved by Luxembourg authorities). Similarly, it is unclear to what extent, if at all, the Panamanian authorities have disseminated to the public or shared with authorities of other countries the documents seized from Mossack Fonseca’s offices following the initial leak. While there may be legitimate reasons for restricting the disclosure of source documentation, the availability of only extracted and secondary information poses hearsay, trustworthiness and other evidentiary problems for authorities, asset recovery professionals and victims in constructing asset recovery cases. More must be done to allow access to this critical information.

Secondly, it is an open issue as to whether information taken from the Panama Papers is privileged or protected. Additionally, the issue is complicated by the possible application of foreign law, making it difficult to know which privilege rules apply. Though exceptions to privilege may exist, such as the crime-fraud exception under US law or the iniquity exception under English law, this issue must be weighed carefully.

Rather, a best practice would be to treat the Offshore Leaks Database as an important tool in the investigative toolbox and a springboard to pursue additional disclosure in the appropriate jurisdiction. In this respect, emerging asset tracing techniques in recent years can assist greatly in closing the fence around intricate offshore structures. With respect to the US, these techniques include pursuing disclosure proceedings in aid of foreign litigation under 28 USC § 1782, the subpoenaing of information from banks in order to trace the flow of monies through different jurisdictions, and seeking recognition of foreign bankruptcy proceedings under the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency. By using the Model Law, foreign bankruptcy trustees can gain access to US-style discovery and broad turnover powers of assets within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

Whatever the reason for the delay, the fervour to see positive change prompted by the Panama Papers must now enter the next phase: concerted efforts to pursue – on behalf of the victims of tax evasion, corruption, fraud and money laundering – the vast hidden wealth that has been secreted through the use of opaque offshore corporate vehicles. Such efforts are long overdue.

To view full article, click here.

Notes:

  1. https://panamapapers.icij.org/

    Edward H Davis Jr (+1 305 372 8282, Ext. 228, edavis@ sequorlaw.com) is a founding shareholder of Sequor Law. Davis was recognised as the Asset Recovery Lawyer of the Year by Who’s Who Legal in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. With nearly
30 years of experience, he focuses his practice on asset recovery, financial fraud and the pursuit of misappropriated assets throughout the world on behalf of the victims of fraud. Davis is also a leading member of the ICC Commercial Crimes Services FraudNet Network. Andres H Sandoval (+1305 372 8282, Ext. 234, asandoval@sequorlaw.com) is a member of Sequor Law’s asset recovery and financial fraud group. Sandoval focuses his practice on asset’ financial fraud and creditors’ rights litigation, as well as cross-border insolvencies.

 

 

 

Recuperar activos ocultos en el extranjero: Nuevo nicho para abogados


Las estrategias combinan legislaciones de distintos países.

By Antonio Collados

El peruano Vladimiro Montecinos, el chileno Alberto Chang y el matrimo‐ nio filipino de Imelda y Ferdinando Marcos tienen algo en común: oculta‐ ron en el extranjero los bienes que obtuvieron mediante fraudes. Si bien la recuperación transnacional de activos es un área de práctica legal muy extendida en el mundo, es muy poco conocida en Chile.

Se trata de un área de derecho relativamente nueva, en donde se requiere trabajar en equipo no solamente de abogados de distintos países, sino también con investigadores y con contadores forenses, según explica Guillermo Jorge, jurista argentino que participó el viernes pasado en un almuerzo organizado por el Estudio Rivadeneira Colombara Zegers, al cual asistieron algunos profesionales chilenos y varios expertos internacionales. Esta oficina se está integrando a una red internacional de estudios que se dedica a estos temas y que están agrupadas en Fraud Net, donde hay abogados de Estados Unidos, Argentina, Suiza y Reino Unido.

La especialidad también se aplica a casos de divorcios de personas de alto patrimonio en que uno de los cónyuges tiene parte de sus bienes fuera de su país, como fue el caso del ex futbolista y actual entrenador del Atlético Madrid, Diego Simeone, cuya bien asesorada ex esposa obtuvo 20 millones de euros como producto de estas pesquisas.

En el seminario del viernes, el abogado estadounidense Edward Davis Jr. destacó el sigilo como uno de los aspectos más relevantes de estas gestiones. “Esto es como cuando un tigre sale a cazar, se mueve con mucha tranquilidad, se toma su tiempo, es silencioso, pero no es lento”, dijo.

Davis asegura que todo se hace de una manera diseñada para que no alerte a la persona que está escondiendo el activo, porque el dinero puede moverse de un día para otro.

“Hay que ser un tigre inteligente y ágil”, agrega Jorge, su colega argentino, quien destaca que algo que les da mucha agilidad a los equipos de abogados privados son los recursos. Explica que un fiscal debe ceñirse a procedimientos lentos y formalidades para pedir cooperación internacional, lo que contrasta con las redes de abogados privados conectados en grupos de whatsapp, con bases de datos a las que acceden simultáneamente.

Una “Interpol privada”

De acuerdo a la descripción que realizan, estos equipos trabajan como “una suerte de Interpol privada”, ya que pueden reaccionar rápidamente y actuar de manera simultánea en todos los países que sea necesario, según comenta Ciro Colombara, socio del estudio chileno, quien explica que la globalización hace que los conflictos jurídicos también sean globales.

“Casi todos los casos relevantes tienen una arista internacional y en el caso de los temas económicos es muy habitual que los activos económicos estén en otros países, especialmente en paraísos fiscales”, añade.

Esto hace que el conocimiento idiosincrático de las distintas jurisdicciones donde tendrán lugar las pesquisas sea una clave fundamental de su éxito. “Si le pides a un juez de un país ‘A’ que le pida algo a un juez del país ‘B’, se lo tienes que pedir en un lenguaje tal que él lo lea como algo muy parecido a lo que hace todos los días, hay que saber cómo hacer coincidir los sistemas, qué palabras claves incluir”, dice Arnie Lacayo, otro experto de Estados Unidos que participó en el seminario.

Tanto Lacayo como Davis Jr. trabajan actualmente en el caso Stanford, un fraude de más de US$5 mil millones, sólo superado en magnitud por el caso Madoff, en que la defraudación alcanzó los US$50 mil millones.

Los especialistas explicaron que la clave en estos casos es la capacidad de seguir el flujo del dinero para entender cómo se hizo el fraude, dónde están los activos y así definir la forma de recuperarlos.

Para leer el artículo completo, oprime aquí.

Trove of Missing Art Heads to Auction

A Henry Moore sculpture and a Rufino Tamayo painting are among recovered art works that may be auctioned at Sotheby’s

By Kelly Crow

Former Banco Santos president Edemar Cid Ferreira once covered the walls of his São Paulo home with Man Ray photographs, Louise Bourgeois prints and paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francis Picabia and others. But when Brazilian authorities arrested Mr. Ferreira in 2006 for an alleged $1 billion money-laundering scheme, the walls were bare.

The vanished collection set off a global scavenger hunt, with investigators and creditors chasing leads long after Mr. Ferreira was convicted of money – laundering and sentenced in federal criminal court in Brazil to 21 years in prison. Mr. Ferreira has appealed the case and declined, through his lawyer, to comment.

Mr. Ferreira, the president of Banco Santos, during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 2004. More art once owned by him has been recovered. Photo: Daniel Ackern/Bloomberg News

This month, U.S. authorities announced a breakthrough, saying they had rounded up 95 works Mr. Ferreira once owned that together are worth at least $10 million. The art was in warehouses across France, Panama, England and the Netherlands, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Two paintings in the group were in galleries in New York.

Joon Kim, the Acting U.S. Attorney, who said Mr. Ferreira’s art had been “used to mask an audacious criminal scheme,” signed documents turning the trove over to a Brazilian judicial administrator handling the estate of Banco Santos, which failed in 2005.

The bank’s estate, which is seeking to compensate creditors, plans to enlist Sotheby’s to auction some of the works, said Arnoldo Lacayo, a lawyer with Sequor Law, a Miami firm helping the bank’s estate track down Mr. Ferreira’s assets. A Sotheby’s spokeswoman confirmed that the auction house has been asked to review the works for potential sale.

Major pieces include Henry Moore’s “Woman,” a life-size bronze figure that had been stored in France, as well as Rufino Tamayo’s abstract view of a couple, “Casal de Marcianos 1975 (Two Figures),” which was stored in Florida. There also is a Lucite cube sculpture by Anish Kapoor and works by Brazilian mainstays Adriana Varejão, Vik Muniz and Jac Leirner. Among the older works is an etching by Eugène Delacroix.

The fate of Helen Frankenthaler’s 1965 blue-and-gold abstract, “Sea Strip,” offers a glimpse into the circuitous path of some of the art. Mr. Ferreira paid Christie’s $197,900 for “Sea Strip” in late 2004 —a year before his bank failed and a time when authorities said he was starting to ship crates of art to warehouses in Europe for safekeeping. Later, a friend of his wife sold “Sea Strip” to Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art in New York for an undisclosed sum. John Cahill, a lawyer for the gallery, said Mr. Nahem had been told that the painting was from a corporate collection.

Once alerted to its true origins, Mr. Nahem got into a title dispute with the bank’s estate, Mr. Cahill and Mr. Lacayo said, because the dealer had bought the work in good faith. Both sides said they have since reached a settlement to sell the work jointly. Right now, the Frankenthaler is the only recovered work that isn’t immediately headed to Sotheby’s, Mr. Cahill said.

Before this month, only a handful of works from Mr. Ferreira’s collection had been found and returned—including a Roman statue and Basquiat’s 1982 “Hannibal,” a skull portrait on an orange background. The work, with its dark slashes, spiky lines and splotches of bright color, is considered a signature piece by Basquiat, who started out as a graffiti artist. Mr. Ferreira bought the painting in 2003 and had it shipped from the Netherlands to a New York warehouse in 2007 after his conviction, authorities said. U.S. Customs took a closer look when the work arrived because its declared value was $100.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, ‘Hannibal,’ 1982 Photo: Interpol Washington

Last fall, Sotheby’s helped the bank’s estate sell “Hannibal” to Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa for $13 million.

“Hiding illicit proceeds in art happens all the time,” said Mr. Lacayo of the asset-recovery firm helping the bank’s estate. “At least in this case we’re unraveling it.”

To view full article, click here.

US Government Repatriates 95 Artworks Linked to Disgraced Brazilian Financier

The blue-chip collection was part of a massive money laundering scheme.

By Henri Neuendorf

The United States has seized and returned 95 artworks valued in the tens of millions of dollars that once belonged to the disgraced Brazilian banker Edemar Cid Ferreira. The founder and former president of Banco Santos, Ferreira was convicted of money laundering and crimes against the national financial system in 2006 and is currently appealing against a 21-year prison sentence.

During his tenure as president of Banco Santos, Ferreira bought dozens of works by blue-chip names including Jean-Michel BasquiatLouise BourgeoisFrancis PicabiaHenry Moore, and Anish Kapoor. In 2006, a Brazilian court found that he bought the works with illegally obtained funds from Banco Santos and ruled that they should be seized and used to repay the bank’s creditors.

But when Brazilian officials searched Ferreira’s home, storage facility, and offices in 2006, they discovered that much of the collection was missing. They have been on the hunt for them ever since.

The collection was illegally smuggled out of Brazil between November 2004 and March 2005, according to authorities. The works were shipped through the US with false documentation, inaccurate valuations, and fabricated titles to locations in Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, and the UK. (For example, when the work by Basquiat, which has been appraised at $8 million, was sent to a New York storage facility from the Netherlands, the shipping invoice stated it was worth only $100.)

Over the next 11 years, the US worked with Interpol and governments across Europe to locate the star-studded collection. Dutch authorities seized three crates containing 85 of the missing artworks from a storage facility and turned them over to US authorities; a UK-based auction house voluntarily handed over seven artworks to US law enforcement; the underwriters of an insurance policy to a company controlled by Ferreira handed over a painting by Rufino Tamayo; and an unnamed New York gallery reached a settlement to  jointly sell a painting by Helen Frankenthalerwith the Brazilian judicial administrator in a deal approved in March 2017. Most recently, a Henry Moore statue was seized by French authorities from a storage facility and handed over to US authorities this summer.

Why did it take so long to find and return the works? According to Arnoldo B. Lacayo of Sequor Law, one of the attorneys representing the Brazilian Judicial Administrator, the repatriation process was drawn out because the art was subject to complex criminal and bankruptcy cases in Brazil and the US. “The recovery process… has taken time but represents an important success on behalf of the many creditors of the Estate of Banco Santos who were hurt as a result of the illicit activity which resulted in the bank’s demise,” he says. “In short, while some of the art left Brazil as long ago as 2004, the criminal, bankruptcy and forfeiture cases only came later.”

The latest repatriation comes after the US attorney returned five works—paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Roy Lichtenstein, Joaquin Torres Garcia, Serge Poliakoff, and a Roman sculpture—valued at a combined $20–30 million to Brazil in June 2015.

“These works were used to mask an audacious criminal scheme by Edemar Cid Ferreira,” acting Manhattan US attorney Joon H. Kim says in a statement. Thanks to efforts of the US attorney’s office and Homeland Security Investigations, “these treasured pieces will be returned to their rightful owner, the bankruptcy estate of Ferreira’s insolvent Banco Santos.”

To view full article, click here.

Global Restructuring Review Top 100 Law Firms Listing

Miami’s newly rebranded Sequor Law is the Chilean liquidator of bankrupt investment vehicle Onix Capital

 Global head of restructuring and insolvency  Gregory Grossman

History of the practice

Shareholders Edward Davis and Gregory Grossman launched boutique Sequor Law in April, in what was effectively a rebrand of Miami firm Astigarraga Davis’ cross-border insolvency, international asset recovery and financial fraud team.

Davis and Grossman, two of the founders of Astigarraga Davis, decided to establish the new outfit when their former firm’s international arbitration practice left to join global law firm Reed Smith.

All of the attorneys from Astigarraga Davis’ cross-border insolvency, international asset recovery, and financial fraud practice were retained by Sequor Law.

Network

Grossman heads up the firm’s international insolvency and financial litigation practice, which operates out of a solitary office in Miami.

Who uses it?

The team represents international banks, sovereign governments and government institutions, liquidators and receivers, lenders and multinational corporations, as well as individuals.

Some notable clients include Big Four professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Historic track record

The practice, under Astigarraga Davis and Sequor Law, has made over 20 Chapter 15 filings in the US to recognise insolvency proceedings in diverse jurisdictions including Antigua, Austria, Barbados, Brazil, the BVI, the Cayman Islands, Chile, Mexico, Romania and the UK. Indeed, Grossman says the firm has filed more Chapter 15s than any other law firm in the US.

Notably, Davis and Grossman filed the first Chapter 15 bankruptcy petition in the state of Florida, on behalf of PricewaterhouseCoopers as the custodian of failed financial institution Bancafe International Barbados.

Davis also served as lead civil counsel for the government of Antigua and Barbuda in relation to an alleged fraud in the payment of debt owed to a Japanese leader that sponsored the building of the Crabbs Desalination and Power Plant in northeast Antigua.

Elsewhere, the team was instructed to represent the joint liquidators of Stanford International Bank in efforts to recover assets relating to a US $7 billion Ponzi scheme- the second largest Ponzi scheme in world history, which has seen filings in Antigua, the UK, the US and Canada.

Recent events

During our research period, Sequor Law was instructed as counsel to the court-appointed liquidator and foreign representative of bankrupt Chilean investment firm Onix Capital in Chapter 15 proceedings in Florida. The liquidator is seeking to recover assets in excess of $100 million* relating to an alleged Ponzi scheme operated by the group’s CEO, Chilean businessman Alberto Chang-Rajii.

The Sequor team also continues to act as primary US counsel to the joint liquidators of Stanford International Bank.

As it transitioned to Sequor Law, the team from Astigarraga Davis hired attorney John Silbermann from the enforcements division of the US Securities & Exchange Commission.

The complete GRR 100 guide will be accessible at http://globalrestructuringreview.com/grr-100

 

* The GRR 100 incorrectly values the Onix case as a $7.4 million dollar Ponzi scheme. The correct value of the Ponzi scheme is in excess of $100 million.

Internationally Noted Attorneys Establish Sequor Law

New Firm to Focus on International Asset Recovery, Financial Fraud, Cross-Border Insolvency and Financial Services Litigation

MIAMI – April 11, 2017 – Edward H. Davis, Jr., a founding shareholder of Astigarraga Davis, today announced the opening of Sequor Law to focus on representing clients internationally in asset recovery, financial fraud, cross-border insolvency and financial services litigation. Sequor Law’s attorneys include all members of the Astigarraga Davis top-ranked asset recovery team.

Jose Astigarraga and the other attorneys in the firm’s international arbitration practice have moved their practice to join a global law firm.

Davis and Gregory Grossman, another founding shareholder, consider this a natural next step in the development of their respective law practices.

“We are energized about the evolution of our practices. The new platform of Sequor Law will better position us to meet a growing global demand for our high-quality legal counsel,” said Davis, a certified fraud examiner who has been recognized as the Asset Recovery Lawyer of the Year for the past four years by Who’s Who Legal and who has an internationally recognized financial fraud, asset recovery and international litigation practice. “It will enable the attorneys at Sequor Law to continue building upon our unique strengths and pursue significant new opportunities in areas we excel, while also becoming more nimble in today’s ever-changing legal environment.”

Added Davis: “Sequor Law derives its name from the Latin word ‘to pursue, to chase, to attain,’ and signifies our core values: the agile, aggressive, and relentless pursuit of assets and success on behalf of our clients.”

Sequor Law’s international insolvency and financial services litigation practice is headed by Grossman. He will focus his practice on creditors’ rights, bankruptcy, insolvency litigation, and operational bank litigation.  Grossman filed the first Chapter 15 Petition in the state of Florida and is recognized as a thought leader in the use of cross-border insolvency proceedings on behalf of creditors and fraud victims.

Sequor Law’s multi-lingual team includes:

  • Annette Escobar, a shareholder and certified financial crime specialist who focuses her practice on representing insolvency practitioners in international insolvency cases
  • Arnoldo Lacayo, a shareholder, certified specialist in asset recovery, and incoming chair of The Florida Bar International Law Section who focuses his practice on international corruption investigations and asset recovery for governments and state-owned enterprises
  • Daniel  Coyle, an associate who represents creditors and insolvency practitioners in domestic and international insolvency matters
  • Nyana Abreu Miller, an associate who focuses her practice on asset recovery for women in cross-border divorce cases
  • Andrés Sandoval, an associate focusing his practice on international judgment and arbitral award collection
  • Cristina Vicens Beard, an associate focusing her practice on representing victims in the recovery of assets in cross border frauds

In addition, attorney John Silbermann, most recently with the Office of Collection in the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, joins the firm as senior counsel and will focus his practice on international asset recovery.

At Sequor Law, the attorneys will continue their collaboration with ICC FraudNet, a world-class network of specialized attorneys, best-in-class investigators, and forensic accountants.

About Sequor Law

Sequor Law is a Miami-based international law firm representing financial institutions, sovereign governments and state owned enterprises, public and non-public companies, insolvency practitioners and individual clients in the areas of asset recovery, financial fraud, insolvency and financial services litigation. More information is available at www.SequorLaw.com

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