We were tasked to conduct an asset trace on a Nigerian individual who, amongst other things, had been involved in an arms scandal and had run up several million pounds worth of debts.

The IP we were working for had limited funds to conduct an investigation, so we worked with them to agree a prioritised and sequenced approach to our investigation, so that it could be broken down into affordable phases.

Our preliminary scoping identified three jurisdictions of interest; Nigeria, the U.K and the U.S. We identified links to two properties and over twenty potential corporate affiliations in Nigeria, ten corporate affiliations in the U.K. and a link to a property in the U.S. We also identified multiple links to properties in his daughter’s names, but the IP did not have the authority to pursue these.

Based on the cost of conducting investigations in each country and the ease of enforceability, we first focused on the property in the U.S. and were able to prove sole ownership of a USD $1.4m property in Washington DC. Having identified sufficient funds to ensure that the IP would recover their costs, we were then given the green light to commence investigations in Nigeria.

Although the ownership of the two linked properties proved to be opaque and many of the linked companies were insolvent, we did identify majority ownership of one company which was trading profitably and had assets of approximately USD $3m.