Asset Recovery

Asset Recovery

Victims of fraud, corruption and financial crime will often find that their problems are multi-jurisdictional in scope and fluid in nature. Those that have reaped the monetary benefits of fraud, corruption, or theft will frequently go to great lengths to hide their spoils. Financial, corporate and tax structures allow wrongdoers to obscure ultimate beneficial ownership or to move their ill-gotten gains to a different jurisdiction in a matter of minutes. Combatting well-resourced individuals and their facilitators to recover assets and recoup losses requires a high level of expertise that few can provide, a knowledge of multiple legal systems that few possess, and a toughness and commitment that few are willing to sustain.

Successful asset recovery also requires out-of-the-box thinking and resourcefulness.  Sequor Law has pioneered the concept of “value recovery” as opposed to the more restrictive notion of asset recovery limited to the freezing and recovery of tangible assets such as funds in a bank account, real estate, or an expensive vehicle or work of art.  Our definition of asset recovery is much broader and seeks opportunities to make victims of fraud, corruption and financial fraud whole by looking not only at traditional assets, but also at the possibility of holding aiders and abettors, conspirators, and facilitators liable through third-party actions. In other instances, the asset to be recovered may be a valuable claim (chose in action) or savings that flow from a contract that is declared to have been obtained by fraud or corruption and cancelled.  In yet other contexts, asset recovery may involve the exercise of restitution rights in a criminal action, the re-opening of a matrimonial dissolution settlement or the enforcement of a judgment previously written off as a dead end.

Sequor Law’s asset recovery practitioners are recognized world-wide for their leadership in building the practice area and continue to gain recognition for making new, asset recovery-related law, where none exists.  Among other recognitions, Sequor Law was named Asset Recovery Firm of the Year in 2015 and 2016 by Who’s Who Legal and the leader of the practice group, Edward H. Davis, Jr., was named as the inaugural Asset Recovery Lawyer of the Year in 2013 and then was so honored again in 2014, 2015 and 2016.  At Sequor Law, you will find a dedicated team with a great depth of expertise in common law and civil law jurisdictions alike, including financial and tax haven jurisdictions. The asset recovery team focuses on piercing through to the wrongdoer’s inner circle, utilizing powerful tools like asset freeze orders and other pre-judgment remedies, discrete but calculated methods of discovering concealed assets and beneficial ownership information, insolvency remedies, and direct claims against wrongdoers and third-party facilitators.  Sequor Law has also paved the way in deploying pre-suit tools such as the versatile 28 U.S.C. § 1782 statute to gather evidence for use in foreign proceedings and made law in the sphere of cross-border insolvency using Chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer in asset recovery.  Sequor Law is committed to finding the answer in your case and to the global and relentless pursuit of your rights.

Representative Cases

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Sequor Law represents the Joint Liquidators for Stanford International Bank, Ltd.(“SIB”) (in Liquidation). SIB, a bank located in Antigua, which primarily sold certificates of deposit, played a key part in a worldwide Ponzi scheme, the second largest one in history, perpetrated by Robert Allen Stanford, with losses to depositors estimated to exceed US$4.4 billion. SIB was liquidated in March 2009 and since May 12, 2011, when Mr. Marcus Wide and Mr. Hugh Dickson from Grant Thornton were appointed as Joint Liquidators of the SIB estate in the liquidation proceeding in Antigua, Sequor Law has acted as co-general counsel along with counsel in the Caribbean for the Joint Liquidators in their global asset recovery efforts, which have included helping the estate to recover (a) US$3.2 million from Panama; (b) US$20 million from the United Kingdom; (c) freezing assets in Antigua & Barbuda valued at US$212 million; (d) launching a formal claim process; (e) claims related to approximately US$330 million in frozen assets at the request of the Department of Justice of the United States in Canada, Switzerland and the U.K.; (f) filing a case for damages valued at approximately US$5 billion against a bank in Canada; and (g) initiating efforts to recover a considerable amount of funds located in Colombia, from law firms and other financial institutions, among other things. Sequor Law also initiated an application for recognition under Chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code on behalf of the Joint Liquidators in Dallas, Texas, which was approved, recognizing the procedure in Antigua as the secondary foreign proceeding and, recently, helped the U.S. Judicial Administrator, the SEC, the U.S. Department of Justice, along with the Joint Liquidators and others, to reach a global agreement and cross-border protocol.

Represents Novoship (UK) limited and other entities part of a shipping conglomerate, ultimately owned by the Russian Government, in a judgment domestication and enforcement matter in the State of Florida. In December 2012 and January 2013, Novoship obtained two judgments, totaling approximately US$98 million with interest and costs, in the English High Court of Justice. The judgments were entered against a Venezuelan national and his companies for fraudulent acts related to certain charter party contracts. Although the parties settled in 2013 for US$40 million, the judgment debtors breached the settlement and Novoship sought to enforce the full amount of the judgments. Novoship sought and obtained a freezing injunction entered in the English Court freezing the judgment debtors’ assets, up to US$98 million, on a worldwide basis. Within 24 hours, Sequor Law successfully sought and obtained recognition of the English freezing injunction and was able to freeze assets and begin taking discovery prior to obtaining full recognition of the English judgments in Florida. Further, after extensive discovery by way of subpoenas, numerous depositions, and discovery-related motion practice, Sequor Law uncovered and froze nearly US$3.5 million in funds held at local banks and an additional approximate US$1.5 million in real estate within the State of Florida. Sequor Law successfully defended a motion seeking to vacate the Florida Court’s order recognizing and enforcing the English freezing injunction. Following coordinated legal action in Florida, Switzerland, and London, the judgment debtors tendered payment of the full US$40 million settlement amount.

Since 2008, we have represented two major creditors of the Republic of Argentina in pursing collection of over US$1 billion in judgments in the State of Florida. As a result of the 200I default by the Republic of Argentina on billions of dollars of bonds it issued, thousands of bond holders around the world were drastically affected. Working with our clients’ New York counsel, we pursued collection from assets located in Florida, including at the Miami office of Banco de Ia Nación de Argentina, an Argentine bank I00% owned by the Argentine government.

Represented a class of 2,232 victims of the Leadenhall Bank & Trust and Cash-4-Titles fraud in the British Virgin Islands and The Bahamas to recover US$14.4 million. In this case, the fraudsters, who were convicted and sentenced to multiple years of incarceration for their fraud in the early 2000s, used Leadenhall Bank & Trust in the Bahamas to launder a portion of the proceeds of their fraud. Leadenhall went into liquidation and was sued by the class of victims before the U.S. District Court in Miami in 2003. This led to a final money judgment in the sum of US$313 million in September 2007 from the U.S. District Court. The enforcement of that Judgment has resulted in a collection of US$14.4 million, with a further US$7 million to be distributed to the class in the following 12 months or so.

Represented Robert J. Lodge and Robert K. Orr against SunTrust Bank. Sequor Law represented a judgment creditor attempting to collect a multi-million dollar judgment against an influential group of defendants. After successfully obtaining an order for proceedings supplementary in aid of execution and extensive discovery and depositions of various targets, a favorable settlement was reached in which significant funds were recuperated by the judgment creditor’s successor-in-interest.

Represented a multinational Colombian food products company in its efforts to collect substantial losses in products that were obtained from the Colombian company through fraud and deception. The Colombian institutional client had all but given up hope on recovering its losses when its insurer failed to cover them and sought the assistance of the Firm. Employing international treaties and U.S. domestic laws, lawyers for the firm were able to identify the products and prosecute the defendants in the United States and achieve a successful settlement.

Represented the Government of Peru in an action brought in Miami, Florida, in which the plaintiff in the action sought to attach the plane in which the President of Peru would be flying to the United States as security for proceedings filed here. Simultaneously asserting defenses of insufficient service of process under the FSIA, lack of personal jurisdiction, and failure to state a claim, among others, Sequor Law also argued on Peru’s behalf that Peru was immune from attachment or suit pursuant to the FSIA. Ultimately, the court held that the plane in which the Peruvian President was traveling was not subject to attachment as it was “military hardware” and the President was the “commander in chief’ of the military of Peru under the FSIA.

Represented Creances, S.A.S., (“CDR”), as the successor to Societe de Banque Occidentale (“SDBO”) and an instrumentality of the Republic of France, charged with obtaining value for the assets of insolvent French financial institutions. The subject matter of the dispute was the perpetration of a fraud by a borrower in favor of whom a loan in the amount of nearly US$100 million had been issued that ultimately led to the sale of the land securing the loan without paying off the loan. Sequor Law assisted in developing the strategy that ultimately led to the recovery of millions of dollars in real estate.

Represents the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in related fraud and corruption cases in numerous jurisdictions including Florida, Liechtenstein, the Bahamas, Panama and Switzerland. These cases involved extensive coordination with governmental authorities in multiple jurisdictions, assistance with the drafting of mutual legal assistance (MLAT) requests to multiple jurisdictions in coordination with our clients and assistance in support of extradition proceedings. These cases resulted in the freezing, recovery and repatriation of assets to the victim government of over US$5 million, settlements for damages claims of over US$5 million, and savings of over US$30 million in the invalidation of a fraudulent contract. This case also involved significant capacity building with the relevant authorities in Trinidad.

Represented the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in designing the legal strategy for the recovery of assets for the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago in the CLICO insurance company corruption scandal.

Represented the Government of Antigua and Barbuda in a government corruption case in numerous jurisdictions including Florida, Bermuda, Hong Kong, Switzerland, the Isle of Man and Cayman. This civil case resulted in the freezing, recovery and repatriation of stolen assets to the victim government, the repatriation of US$12 million to the client and the cancellation of a fraudulent contract that saved the government over US$20 million in future expenditures.

Participated as part of a global team in rendering legal advice to the Republic of Haiti with regard to aspects of asset recovery against the Duvalier regime.

Participated as part of a global team in rendering legal advice to the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) in connection with claims of corruption and other wrongdoing connected to the previous president and administration in Guatemala.

Represents Bancafe International Bank (in Liquidation) (“BIB”). In or around 2006, one of the major banking groups in Central America, Banco Cafeteros de Guatemala (“Bancafe”), which had operations in Central America and the Caribbean, failed. BIB, an affiliate of Bancafe was established according to the laws of Barbados with extensive operations in Guatemala and assets in the United States, and was placed under bankruptcy in Barbados. PricewaterhouseCoopers was named the custodian. The assets of the bank in the United States included a claim for US$200 million in the bankruptcy of REFCO in New York, which has resulted in a recovery exceeding US$54 million. In December 2006, Sequor Law, acting in representation of the custodian, filed the first Chapter 15 case in Florida under the Bankruptcy Code of the United States, achieving the recognition of the liquidation proceeding in Barbados as the main foreign proceeding. A broad discovery of evidence in the United States ensued and it is still ongoing, as well as discovery and continuous tracking of other assets potentially recoverable for the estate. An account in New York was also identified from which approximately US$1 million were recovered.

Represents the judicial administrator of Banco Santos, S.A. (in Liquidation). The case followed an investigation that revealed that an executive of the bank had perpetrated a theft of more than US$1 billion through a complex scheme that involved several countries. Sequor Law initiated an insolvency proceeding under Chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Through the Chapter 15 action and corresponding recognition, Dr. Vanio Aguiar obtained valuable evidence located in the United States and around the world, which helped his efforts, including the recovery of works of art valued at millions of dollars. Additionally, several millions of dollars were recovered in an ancillary case against third parties through a confidential agreement.

Represents Petroforte Brasileiro de Petroleo Ltda. (“Petroforte”) (in Liquidation). Petroforte, part of a great group of commercial companies in Brazil, failed, was declared insolvent, and it is subject to an insolvency proceeding in Brazil. A Judicial Administrator was appointed to supervise Petroforte’s businesses, and the bankruptcy of the same has been extended to more than 300 entities and individuals. Sequor Law filed an application in the United States requesting deposition testimony and the production of evidence, and analogous proceedings were pursued in other countries in the Caribbean and Central America. The Firm was able to obtain important deposition testimony and collect documentary evidence to assist the Judicial Administrator with his efforts in Brazil. Depending upon the outcome of certain proceedings in Brazil, additional litigation in several jurisdictions, including in the United States through an application under Chapter 15 of the Bankruptcy Law may result in the identify and recover additional assets.