In simple terms, its "following the missing money". Its the process used to identify, locate and then freeze stolen assets. Perhaps you invested in a scheme and now can't seem to get hold of the person you invested with? Maybe a company director has drained the company bank account and ran off with the money? Asset tracing is usually related to fraud or theft cases where victims have lost their assets due to scams, embezzlement or theft. Asset tracing helps to start the recovery process.
What is a traceable asset?
It can anything really! Property, stocks and shares, physical items, bank accounts, intellectual property rights, plant and equipment, vehicles, livestock, and of course the obvious one, money.
What can asset tracing do?
Asset tracing can help in various ways including finding out :
- What other assets the fraudster may have
- What the current value of the missing asset is
- Who now owns it
- Where it now is
- What the chances are of recovering it
With this information decisions can be made as to whether to proceed with a court claim to recover the asset and what steps can be taken to protect the asset until it is recovered.
What happens in asset tracing?
The main aim in asset tracing is to obtain key information that can help you decide what next step to take. It can involve public register searches right through to court applications for disclosure. It will involve taking statements from everyone involved to figure out how the fraud was perpetrated. It means establishing the current location of the asset. It may also involve apply for a court order to prevent the perpetrator leaving the country.
There is no one size fits all with asset tracing and its important to tailor the approach to the individual situation.
What should I do?
Act quickly. If you think you have been deprived of an asset, the quicker you act, the easier it will be to trace and ultimately recover. Get specialist advice as to your options and what you can do. Keep records of everything that has happened as you may need to rely on them when making a court application and ultimately bringing a claim to recover or seek damages (monetary award instead of the actual asset where the original asset has been destroyed).