The amazing tale of Mukhtar Ablyazov, a Kazakh oligarch alleged
to have committed a multi-billion dollar fraud, was the subject of
a seminar jointly hosted by Bedell Cristin and KPMG at the Pomme
D'Or on 5 November 2014 attended by more than 100 bankers,
trust professionals and corporate service providers.
Chaired by Bedell Cristin Senior Partner Anthony Dessain, the audience heard from the
Receivers, David Standish and John Milsom of KPMG LLP, about the
story of their appointment as receivers and managers of Mr
Ablyazov's assets, and how they have been able to use their
forensic skills to break through secret nominee arrangements and
track down his web of assets around the globe, including Jersey. It
has involved collecting over 6 million documents in relation to
over 1,000 companies located in complex structures onshore and
Edward Drummond, litigation partner at Bedell
Cristin, explained the extreme nature of the legal tools used in
this case, how the Royal Court of Jersey recognised the
Receivers' powers in Jersey, whilst adding protections for
innocent third parties, and how those powers were enforced.
David Standish then described the bizarre circumstances of Mr
Ablyazov fleeing the UK in contempt of court and his eventual
capture in France, and the repercussions (including the extradition
of his wife and daughter from Italy to Kazakhstan, which created a
political furore in Italy). The event concluded with a lively
question and answer session.
The key principles that emerged for any businesses which hold
money for other people, whether trust companies, banks or other
financial institutions, are as follows:
Where those assets have become lost, stolen or damaged:
Follow procedures - inform managers, directors, the board and
compliance as necessary
Obtain readily available information.
Seek legal and accounting advice to prevent further loss.
Act fast to track, preserve and recover the assets.
Where it is alleged the assets are the proceeds of crime, or
belong to third parties:
Consider to whom your duties are owed and in what order. They
may be owed to beneficiaries, the client, shareholders or
creditors. But duties will always be owed to the Court. There
is a duty to comply with Court orders and to help the Court to make
the right decision.
Read Court orders carefully, clarify any ambiguities and comply
The Court will look to protect innocent parties mixed up in
other people's wrongdoing, so you may be able to seek
variations or obtain directions from the Court if appropriate.
Try to maintain the status quo so far as appropriate.
In either case:
Obtain independent advice - take it, record it
contemporaneously, and give reasons for your decisions - right or
Appropriate persons should inform insurers and JFSC (if
regulated) and police (if appropriate). Be careful not to tip
Retain all information - do not destroy it.
There may be a fear of embarrassment, liability, a feeling of a
need to cover up and defend oneself - but do not fall prey to those
Anthony Dessain, Senior Partner at Bedell
Cristin, who chaired the event, commented: "The seminar provided us with a great opportunity to
illustrate the principles of asset tracking by using a real, high
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Confidentiality of corporate documents and information is one of
the key attractions of incorporating a company in the BVI. A
company search of the BVI Registrar of Corporate Affairs will only
disclose certain information and documents.
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