deception

High value off-shore asset ownership dispute

Background

This case is one of several cases that CCC has been involved, which have certain similarities. Due to the nature of this case, it had been running for several years before CCC became involved and relates to identifying the ultimate beneficial owner of shares in an off-shore company, which controlled significant assets. The true identity of the owner having been shrouded in secrecy, with public records recording nominees companies or directors as having control. Utilising several off-shore nominee companies and trusts, located various well know tax havens around the World.

As with the other cases, this came about with the death of an individual and subsequent disclosure of their will. In which it was claimed that he was the ultimate beneficiary of the assets held by these companies and that were to be distributed to his heirs in accordance with his wishes. This led to a number of legal challenges being made by various individuals, with proceedings taking place in two jurisdictions.

The concealment of the ultimate beneficial owner had provided opportunities for others to make claims that, if successful, would have resulted in the rightful beneficiary losing out.

The estimated value of assets being in the region of $45,000,000 USD.

The dispute had been running for some years with several other unsuccessful investigations having taken place, with disputes and claims continuing, which although it might sound odd, was causing the rightful heirs significant hardship with their own assets being frozen, they were close to destitution.

Investigation

Having received instructions through the years of legal representatives, we were given access to the data held on two ancient, non-working computers and an old mobile phone. We were also given access to some 45,000 pages of hard copy documentation, comprising large quantities of copied bundles of the same documentation together with a relatively small number of faded facsimiles, telex messages and handwritten notes. All of which related to the deceased with some documentation dating back to 1970.

Using a combination of computer forensics, eDiscovery processes, combined with traditional investigation techniques. We were able to trace the history of the assets, together with documents confirming their purchase by the deceased utilising another nominee company that had been formed prior to the existence of the companies that until now had been at the centre of this investigation.

From this point we were able to track correspondence between various parties in the USA and France who had been corresponding with the deceased through an accommodation address during the 1980s. Enquiries at the accommodation address revealed that the correspondence was forwarded to yet another solicitor based in Paris.

Searches of the data recovered from the computer identified two more firms of solicitors who coincidentally resided at the same address. One had occasionally been used for business activities known to be associated with the deceased. Whilst the other had been used by the deceased as a document store. Two of which were relevant to the investigation:

  • One document being a ‘letter of wishes’ related to a discretionary trust. The assets of which were the shares of the company owning the assets now valued at $45,000,000 USD.
  • The other, a letter relating to the original purchase of those assets for just over $150,000 USD.

Through further investigation, we could also show that those challenging the will had also committed several criminal offences, which if successfully proceeded with would not only invalidate their claim but also potentially bar them from continuing in practice within their current roles.

Say no more, job done!

For more information regarding any of the services associated with this assignment, please email contact@ccc-ltd.com

 

Blackmail - Personal - Southern Europe

Background

We were contacted by our clients who received an SMS message from an unknown number demanding several million euros payment. Suggesting they could place compromising information into the public that that would cause even greater losses. The Client’s request was that those responsible for sending the message the identified and dealt with in such a way that they were no longer a threat and that the matter did not find its way into the public domain.

Investigation

Through a series of communications with the potential blackmailers, limited evidence was provided to suggest they could potentially damage both our client’s wealth and reputation.

Enquiries in relation to the phone number associated with the messages. Only identified, the likely service provider, country of origin and that the number was from a range associated with ‘pay as you go’ services.

The blackmailers were then informed that the client had appointed an agent to act on their behalf, with whom they would have to deal with in the future, which they agreed too.

As a result, an e-mail account with an appropriate domain name, together with mobile communications, was set up. That, if searched for, would appear to be in another country, but one which was well known to be associated with the client.

A series of further SMS communications between the parties that took place, implying that we wanted further proof of the evidence they had before any payments would be made. Because of the limitations of SMS messaging, the blackmailers agreed to communicate via anonymized e-mail, sending attachments they could not send via the phone. The information contained within the messages provided sufficient information to trace messages being sent to an internet café they were using in southern Europe.

Physical surveillance of the café was organised to coincide with an email response being sent and telephone call being made to the number provided, which led to identifying four individuals responsible for the attempted blackmail. One of whom was a former employee of the client.

Local legislation allowed for ex-parte orders to be obtained, allowing for all copies of potentially damaging material and electronic storage devices could be seized for destruction.

The blackmailers were also required to sign NDA’s or risk the prospect of a lengthy term of imprisonment.

Note:

When the damaging material was eventually identified and examined forensically, it was found to be composite pictures of the client together with other compromising material that had been morphed together using sophisticated techniques that were not apparent to the naked eye. With copies of the original images being found in an encrypted file on one of the blackmailer’s laptops.

For more information regarding any of the services associated with this assignment, please email contact@ccc-ltd.com

Murder - Blackmail - Finance Sector

Background

The finance director of an East European branch of a UK company had been found dead locked in his car, in a forested area favoured by lovers, some distance from both his home and normal place of work. The cause of death a single shot to the head.

Having ‘investigated’ the matter, the local police had classified the case as suicide and the matter had been closed. Despite the car being locked and no firearm or suicide note being found either in or near the vehicle.

Having previously worked for the company on another matter, CCC was asked to assist with the investigation, both in relation to the interviewing of employees and the examination of computers used by the deceased. The purpose of which was to establish the real reason for the individual’s death and whether any work-related matters had a bearing.

Investigation

Once at the regional offices, it soon became clear that the local management appeared resentful and extremely economical with the truth. Preventing access to the victim’s office, stating that the victim’s workstation had been reallocated and that his laptop and mobile phone had gone missing.

It was decided that the only way of getting access to the workstation was to visit the premises when closed overnight and covertly get a forensic copy of the workstation’s hard disk drive for analysis. Having surreptitiously purloined a spare set of office keys and armed with the alarm codes provided by head office, we could get a copy of the hard disk drive with no one knowing.

Forensic Examination

An analysis of the contents identified:

  • Numerous files that had been deleted from the system on the day of our arrival.
  • Within the deleted files were several spreadsheets.
  • Also found in some file slack were partial elements of falsely created invoices.
  • Elements of communication between the victim and others, containing the location where the victim had been found.

Based on information found on the computer and several additional enquiries, it was possible to show that:

  • The victim was being blackmailed.
  • In order to service the extortion, he had been creating false records, including invoices, to cover the fact that he had been diverting company monies to make the pay-offs.
  • The location where the body was found appeared to be the regular meeting place for monies to change hands.

Further analysis of the false invoices identified a loss close to £1 million.

Further investigation into the background of the victim’s background and lifestyle strongly suggested that he had been involved with those ultimately responsible for blackmailing him for a number of years, and that they were closely associated with a local organised crime syndicate. And having reached a stage where he either refused or was unable to make any further payments, he was murdered to preserve the identity of those responsible. This it transpires was also the reason for the Police’s classification of suicide as opposed to murder.

Note:

Given the apparent collusion between local police and organised crime, together with other company specific risk factors. No further action has ever been taken.

For more information regarding any of the services associated with this assignment, please email contact@ccc-ltd.com.

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