Consider this. Your business partner has suddenly emptied the company business account and absconded abroad. Checking back, you find he has also been steadily leeching company profits over the past two years and has now left you penniless. He is tracked down and arrested by authorities but announces he has no money. What do you do? Believe him or start trying to trace his assets?
Assets are everything owned by a business or an individual. They can be many things: real estate, stocks and shares, possessions, undeclared bank accounts, intellectual property rights, company assets (eg property, plant and equipment), vehicles, livestock, yachts and, of course, money. Anything that is or can be converted into cash.
Yet to benefit from hidden assets, you first have to check if they exist and can be found. Otherwise you could be incurring expensive legal fees and unnecessary litigation costs. Asset tracing, put simply, is the identification and verification of property or valuables that clients want to recover through the courts or by negotiated settlement.
Asset tracing is a particularly important element of a successful investigation because it may materially contribute to the body of evidence needed to bring a case to a successful conclusion or to the ability to make a good recovery. At the same time, the task of identifying and locating assets and finding who has control of them is necessarily a difficult one as hiding assets, covering their trail and disguising ownership are among the purposes into which targets put a great deal of effort. Fraudsters can squirrel away assets around the globe, so investigations have to be thorough, methodical and, of course, legal.