Olsen litigator and managing partner, John Greenfield, has
successfully argued a case in the Royal Court which has further
extended the ability of victims of criminal conduct to be able to
claw back assets held in the island.
Acting for Ikea, the victim in a high-profile bribery and
corruption case, which saw jail terms for those involved, Advocate
Greenfield was seeking an order that assets held in Guernsey bank
accounts and the profits from the sale of a Guernsey property
– all amassed as a consequence of a crime –
should be considered as on "constructive trust" for the
benefit of Ikea and therefore returned to that company.
Two Ikea employees were convicted of corruption in the UK when
they took bribes from a third party and falsified invoices
totalling £15.6 million to a company that had been set up to
supply goods to Ikea. A third person, who had established the
company, was convicted of bribery. Ikea had already recovered
approximately £12.7 million through court proceedings in
The case before the Royal Court dealt with the remainder of the
assets that had been placed in Guernsey by or on behalf of the
Royal Court Judge, Russell Finch, ruled that the assets in
Guernsey were deemed to be on a "constructive trust" and
should indeed be handed over to Ikea.
Ikea's application had been resisted on grounds which
included the argument that Ikea could not assert the benefit of a
constructive trust, or proprietary claim over the funds, because
there had been no finding of fraud against the party in whose name
(either directly or through a company) the funds were held. The
Guernsey judge rejected that argument completely and held that
Ikea's claim to the funds was upheld notwithstanding the lack
of a finding of fraud.
Advocate Greenfield explained, this was a significant
development in the weapons available to victims of criminal conduct
who wished to claim assets held by third parties in Guernsey.
"The assets in Guernsey were the last piece of the jigsaw
puzzle and the ruling means that victims of this type of crime,
where the proceeds of crime have been channelled through companies
and property transactions etc., will have a smoother legal path to
claiming those assets without having to prove fraud before doing
so," Advocate Greenfield said.
Many people are baffled by trusts, the purpose of which they don't fully comprehend. Some even regard them with suspicion, as tools of of opaque tax evasion strategies of a type favoured by wealthy individuals.
We were recently instructed by a Bank in relation to a regulatory matter. The Bank had made a suspicious activity report to the Financial Investigation Unit ("FIU") due to their concerns about the potential source of funds in an account.
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