Practice/Industry Group Overview
Edwards Wildman has an established international asset-tracing and recovery practice, acting for Governments, Anti-Corruption Commissions and companies in cases across the world from our offices in London, the United States and Hong-Kong.
We advise on the implementation of effective international asset tracing and recovery programmes for Governments seeking to trace, freeze and recover assets misappropriated by dishonest public officials, their companies, trusts or associates.
We have coordinated cross-border international asset recovery programmes where stolen assets have been dissipated through a wide international financial and corporate network, and have a proven record of providing practical and legal counsel on the complex cross-jurisdictional issues that arise.
In particular we have significant experience advising Governments in relation to the use of both criminal and civil asset recovery mechanisms, and the advantages and disadvantages of each given the particular facts of the case or cases that have arisen.
Our experienced team works closely with clients to create a programme specifically designed to achieve their objectives. We provide advice and support at each stage of the tracing and recovery processes, with the ultimate objective of repatriation of misappropriated assets.
We also assist companies that have been defrauded and liquidators seeking to freeze and recover the proceeds of fraud.
Our expertise includes:
Our lawyers act for Governments investigating suspected cases of corruption, bribery and misappropriation of assets by public officials. We gather information and requisite evidence through domestic and multi-national investigations.
Our team assists Governments in scoping existing corruption cases to identify the cases best suited for asset recovery proceedings. We provide counsel on subsequent steps in managing and prosecuting such actions in the UK or abroad.
We represent clients in asset-recovery civil proceedings in various countries, and have managed proceedings in other jurisdictions, particularly common law jurisdictions, including the UK's crown dependencies and other offshore territories.
- Enforcement of foreign orders
We advise on the enforcement of foreign civil, civil forfeiture and criminal confiscation orders in domestic courts.
- Emergency Injunctive Relief
We assist clients to obtain emergency injunctive relief in the UK courts to secure stolen assets or other proceeds of corruption, in support of domestic and foreign proceedings. This includes freezing assets in the UK or abroad through the use of domestic or worldwide freezing orders.
We also assist clients in gaining access to evidence through search and seize orders and pre-action disclosure orders, including obtaining evidence held by third parties.
- Claims against Third Parties
Our team advises on claims against third parties which knowingly handle the proceeds of corruption or assist in the laundering of it. We also advise on claims against third parties that have paid bribes to win contracts or gain other advantages.
We advise Governments in respect of requests for Mutual Legal Assistance, which are indispensable to Governments seeking information and evidence to support criminal investigations or prosecutions. We provide guidance on Home Office requirements that are in place, minimising the risk of the request being rejected.
Our team offers training to Governments and other bodies on asset recovery tools and issues. We also run other asset recovery training programmes for companies and other bodies.
Our experience includes:
- Since 2009 we have been advising the Government of the Turks & Caicos Islands in one of the largest civil recovery programmes in the world, involving a substantial number of cases seeking to recover land obtained by corruption, the termination of substantial development agreements, and claims for misappropriated funds and evaded stamp duty. Many of these cases also involve appeals to the Caribbean Court of Appeal and the Privy Council. To date, the Government has made over fifty civil recoveries with a number of further trials scheduled.
- We act for the Nigerian Government in various civil proceedings to recover assets and the proceeds of bribes misappropriated by Nigeria's former Military Dictator General Sani Abacha, and his family and associates.
- We have acted for the Nigerian Government in various civil proceedings to recover assets acquired using the proceeds of corruption by Nigerian Governors, that were located both in the UK and abroad.
- We acted for the Government of Pakistan in relation to property located in the UK that it alleged was acquired using the proceeds of corruption.
- Our team acted for the Government of Indonesia in tracing and recovering assets held in Guernsey.
- Our firm has undertaken asset recovery scoping exercises for a number of Governments and Anti-Corruption Commissions.
- We have also acted for companies against former senior executives and employees who have misappropriated company funds, accepted and/or paid bribes and who have stolen valuable confidential information.
- Our lawyers have been involved in providing asset recovery training to government officials.
- We are at the forefront of asset recovery knowledge sharing. Our lawyers have authored various books, book chapters and publication, and regularly speak at anti-corruption events organized by Governments, international organisations and NGOs. The asset-recovery section of our anti-corruption blog monitors developments in this area globally, providing up to date information and in-depth critical analysis, and contains a number of publications on asset recover.
- We also have a Twitter Account which you can follow by accessing the following link.
Articles Authored by Lawyers at this office:
Supreme Court Upholds ERISA Plan's Limitations Period
Jonathan R. Shank,Gina D. Wodarski, December 20, 2013
On December 16, 2013, the United States Supreme Court upheld a limitations period in a long-term disability plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”). In Heimeshoff v. Hartford Life & Accident Insurance Co., the Court resolved a split among the...
Who Owns a Bribe?
James Maton, November 15, 2013
A public official receives a bribe to award a contract. Does the bribe “belong” to the official or to the state that he or she represents? The answer to the question can matter a great deal to the success of a claim. But the issue is controversial and the answer unclear in English law....
Fourth Circuit Finds Copyright Transfers with Electronic Signatures to be Valid
Seth A. Davidson,Ari Z. Moskowitz, October 23, 2013
In a unanimous three-judge opinion, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that the “writing” and “signature” requirements for assigning a copyright can be met by clicking a button in a web browser. This gives greater certainty to enforceability of...
Recent Upsurge of Massachusetts Class Actions on Merchant Zip Code Collection
Brian J. Green,Sander A. Rikleen,Mark E. Schreiber, October 03, 2013
There has been a flurry of class actions filed in the last six months against retailers in Massachusetts alleging improper collection of ZIP codes from consumers during credit card purchases. This upsurge follows the March 2013 decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Tyler v....
Federal Judge Issues Nationwide Injunction Against Aereo Competitor FilmOn
Seth A. Davidson,Arthur H. Harding, September 14, 2013
On September 5, 2013, Judge Rosemary Collyer of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued an order blocking FilmOn from offering its antenna/DVR service. FilmOn (previously known as “BarryDriller.com” and “Aereokiller”) is essentially a knock-off...
Alan L. Friel,H. Straat Tenney, September 11, 2013
Claims Control Clauses: No Self-Control?
Mark Everiss,William Haig,Sam Tacey, August 13, 2013
The High Court rules on the effect of a claims control clause where cedants and some reinsurers unilaterally paid out their share of a claim.