Case Studies

Investigation – ROI/St Lucia

Brief

A large multinational Bank sought to trace and make a recovery against “Mr P”, a debtor suspected of siphoning off funds from his various companies (that the bank had funded) in order to purchase personal assets and fund his extravagant lifestyle.

The client was aware that Mr P was often out of the country and on business overseas. By the middle of 2012 he became entirely uncontactable. The Bank was aware of a portfolio of properties in County Down held in Mr P’s own name against which they had mortgage charges registered. De Vere was instructed to trace Mr P and confirm the scope of his asset portfolio.

Work Undertaken

Initially De Vere conducted jurisdiction wide property searches within the Republic of Ireland. It was apparent that the subject had a larger property portfolio than first suspected by the client with numerous ‘buy-to-let’ properties in counties spanning both The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Several of these properties were owned via property construction companies and investment vehicles for which Mr P and his wife were the beneficial owners. These properties were registered using multiple shell identities which utilised alternative dates of birth, name variations and complex address criteria. It also became clear that Mr P had already sold a substantial number of properties in the previous 2 years.Voters Roll records indicated that most of these properties (all of which were residential) were occupied. However, several were also listed for sale on various estate agent websites.

Local enquiries eventually ascertained that Mr P and his wife had gone to stay in their St Lucia holiday apartment some time ago but had not been seen for several months. One informant was aware that someone (possibly a family member) was the local contact for the rental properties. Internet and media searches in respect of Mr P and in conjunction with the island of St Lucia found reference to social media data indicating that Mr P ran a resort management company in St Lucia. The website showed a photo of Mr P and named him, in the photo, with his wife Mrs P and several other resort staff. Further research found that Mr P had reportedly been head of a consortium and led a buy-out of the existing resort Management Company. Sources on St Lucia confirmed that, before the buy-out, the resort was made up of a number of privately owned condominiums with the remainder of the un-sold properties still owned by the management company. The members of the consortium were all existing owners of the privately owned condominiums which ranged in value from $750,000 to $1,950,000.

Outcome

We confirmed that Mr P personally owned five condominium on the complex. As part of the buy-out, the consortium, in which Mr P had a beneficial interest through his Cayman Island company, also purchased the remaining 12 unsold properties, most of which were let out to holidaymakers.

We estimated that the assets attributable to Mr P were valued at over £5m, enough to satisfy the funds owed to our client.