Asset and Financial Investigation

Financial investigations are critical in ensuring that crime doesn’t pay. They are central to the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing and can help dismantle criminal networks by identifying associates and their assets.

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TIN conducts financial investigations, verifying and locating domestic and foreign assets and identifying associates. Often these investigations are conducted prior to legal proceedings or debt collection to assess potential monetary losses.

Hidden Assets

Hidden assets are not only costly for businesses but can also lead to criminal prosecution. Hidden assets can be anything from real estate to offshore bank accounts. They are used to avoid paying taxes, conceal fraud, hide income and wealth, and manipulate financial statements.

Hidden assets can be discovered through a number of investigative techniques. These include the use of forensic accountants or private investigators who are experienced in these investigations. They can uncover a number of issues including cash being shifted into property, gifts, purchases made without proper documentation, and even sham transactions.

Another way hidden assets can be discovered is through a thorough search of public records. This can include county records from recorders of deeds, liens offices, and health and weights and measures departments. It can also include state records such as business registrations, corporation registers, and tax and sheriff’s offices.

Many people believe that hidden assets are found only in shady or unethical businesses. However, it’s important to remember that these assets can be hidden in any type of business, regardless of its reputation or legal standing. Hidden assets can be discovered as a result of unethical activity, but they can also occur unintentionally. In the latter case, it’s important for businesses to accurately disclose all of their assets when raising capital to ensure the financial stability of investors, creditors and shareholders.

Fraud or Identity Theft

Fraud or identity theft can affect anyone, especially children and seniors, who often do not understand the ins and outs of their specific situations. Using technology, criminals steal a victim’s personal information and credentials to commit crimes in their name. Warning signs include bounced checks, a warrant for your arrest, unexplained medical bills, utilities shut off or new credit cards opened in your name that you didn’t apply for. Criminals can even sift through trash bins for documents or other evidence.

Financial investigations are critical for proving crimes such as corruption, fraud or trafficking in illicit goods and people. They also play a significant role in confiscating illegally obtained assets, depriving criminals of their proceeds so that crime does not pay.

Asset investigations identify undisclosed financial and non-financial assets. This includes research into tax returns, alleged debt, shareholder statements and spending habits. It may also include looking for hidden assets that a suspect might try to hide by transferring ownership to family members or friends, holding purchases through shell companies, using offshore accounts, failing to disclose assets on financial documents and more. In many cases, private investigators will use open-source intelligence in the preliminary stages of an investigation. This helps to develop leads, compile a subject profile and prepare search and seizure warrants. It can also help to determine the value of a subject’s assets, both domestically and abroad.

Divorce

Divorce can be emotionally draining, especially when spouses battle over assets. It is important to keep an eye on your financial accounts and monitor statements for any unexplained transactions, such as cash withdrawals or credit card charges. A sudden shift in cash flow could indicate that your spouse is moving funds into a secret account ahead of divorce proceedings.

During the divorce process, it is critical to compile a detailed list of all family property including real estate, investment and retirement accounts, 401(k)s, trusts, brokerage accounts, professional practices and licenses and closely-held businesses. It is also necessary to get accurate valuations on all assets, including those that may be held in the form of debt. This includes mortgage loans, credit cards, and taxes owed.

Hiding assets during a divorce is illegal in most states, and it can result in your receiving less than you deserve in the settlement. Likewise, underestimating income can significantly reduce the amount of court-mandated alimony or child support you receive.

If your spouse is attempting to hide assets from you, they can be caught by investigators who can subpoena records and question witnesses, perform surveillance and obtain documents through the discovery process. Detecting hidden assets can help you receive a fair settlement in your divorce and set you up for success after the split.

Asset Recovery

Asset recovery is a vital process that helps to deter corruption by making it more difficult for those involved in corrupt activities to enjoy their illicit gains. It is also a key tool for returning stolen funds to the countries from which they were misappropriated, and helping to ensure that those funds are used for development purposes in those countries most impacted by global corruption.

A successful asset recovery requires a number of different steps, including tracing and locating assets; obtaining court orders (usually through a Mutual Legal Assistance request or letter rogatory but occasionally via a civil Mareva injunction) to freeze and confiscate the assets; and finally returning the assets back to the country from which they were stolen. These processes can be complex and time consuming, and require a high level of international cooperation.

In addition, a number of issues can impede or delay progress in a recovery case, such as political interference in criminal proceedings and immunity, lack of effective anti-money laundering measures, and difficulties establishing a link between the assets and the offense. Further, a system for domestic coordination is essential to enable a lead agency and the sharing of information, as well as to facilitate cooperation in cases involving multiple jurisdictions.

Finally, it is worth noting that third party asset recovery companies frequently contact victims of investment fraud, promising to help recover their money — often for a large up-front fee. Consumers should exercise caution before engaging such services, as they may not go much beyond what the victim could do on their own for free, such as file a complaint with the appropriate regulatory agencies.