Tracing Offshore Accounts
January 27, 2008 8:33 AM   Subscribe

I need help in trying to find hidden assets of my soon to be ex--he has gone to the Caymans, and I had heard that I may be able to trace fund transfers somehow through Homeland Security? Any suggestions of how to proceed?
posted by bettyboop4 to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sue, get appropriate court order to look at bank records? That's about all I can think of, since even if Homeland Security has the records, they probably won't release them to you without that order.
posted by cschneid at 9:00 AM on January 27, 2008

There's is something about this question that makes my "We're being trolled or gamed somehow light up."

That said, this is a question best left to your divorce lawyer. Stuff like this is her / his freaking job.

If your husband has offshore assets and your divorce lawyer doesn't know what to do about it, you need a new divorce lawyer.
posted by dersins at 9:07 AM on January 27, 2008 [2 favorites]

The only answer that will be of any use to you is dersins.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:08 AM on January 27, 2008

There's is something about this question that makes my "We're being trolled or gamed somehow" sensor light up.

Fixed that for me.
posted by dersins at 9:08 AM on January 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

"Sue, get appropriate court order to look at bank records?"

Not as simple as that; presumably Sue would get a judgment or court order in the United States. Cayman, like many other nations, don't routinely honour foreign judgments. In fact many countries make a nice living by offering safe refuge from foreign judgments. Cayman claims that they've cleaned up their act and will comply with a wider range of foreign judgments, however I've heard mixed news about how this works / doesn't work in practice, especially regarding the type of action you'd be taking.

While that isn't an answer (more a clarification of an earlier response), much of what you can do depends upon the sums involved and the form of the assets you're chasing.

The types of professionals that can help won't be cheap and more than likely will require fees up front. I say "types" as a single solicitor won't be able to this alone and in fact will probably need, minimally, investigators and accountants, the later particularly so if we're talking about complex structures and transactions funding those vehicles. Only you know how much this exercise will be worth; if its a question of honour then I guess any price is worth it. If you're just looking for your fair share, it may cost tens of thousands of dollars to locate the assets and get the appropriate legal orders in place.

That being said, you'll either have to take court action in Cayman or get a US court order and then get it served somehow. If he's in Cayman and not coming back I'm not sure how this could be accomplished - simply serving him certainly can't compel him to perform with the order.

In terms of assets, if we're talking cash then it's game over as transferring money from one domicile to another is very, very easy. He could easily put the money offshore into a regime hostile to US judgments.

Non liquid assets are tougher to hide and move about for obvious and not so obvious reasons. Securities, for example, will always leave a paper trail.

I'd suggest consulting a service that traces assets, but as they may or may not be able to help try to limit how much of a fee you pay for consultations.

Once again, depending upon the form of the assets and especially where they've ended up, you may not be able to do anything. Keep in mind tracing offshore assets won't be cheap and you may end up financing an expensive chase.

Finally, IANAL, however I have my assets offshore (for tax minimisation, not creditor avoidance) and learned a little while selecting a domicile and structure, and engaging professionals. Just a little - it's a large and complex specialty.
posted by Mutant at 9:53 AM on January 27, 2008 [3 favorites]

Ditto dersins.
posted by limeonaire at 12:59 PM on January 27, 2008

Keep in mind tracing offshore assets won't be cheap and you may end up financing an expensive chase.

Considering it's quite possible to hide assets, or at least prevent creditors from taking them, without even moving them out of the country, if he's moved things to the Caymans, it probably won't be worth it if he knows what he's doing, unless you are dealing with a huge amount of money.
posted by oaf at 5:32 AM on January 28, 2008

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