Outside construction of the RPC building.

How can I find the golden egg? Part 1: ask the fraudster and accept no eggs-cuses

17 April 2019. Published by Davina Given, Partner and Emma West, Senior Associate

As any seasoned egg-hunter will know, finding the golden egg can be a tricky task, particularly if a fraudster is determined to keep it hidden.

When courts grant freezing orders, they can also require suspected fraudsters to provide an affidavit disclosing the value, location and details of their assets across the globe, including assets they previously owned. Disclosure orders can provide egg-hunters with useful clues at an early stage in proceedings so that they can track down the golden egg and ensure that it is not moved from its hiding place. Indeed, courts usually view such a disclosure order as being necessary to enable an egg-hunter to check the freezing order is being complied with.

If you are on the receiving end of a disclosure order, it's no spring picnic. Identifying all of the assets of a very wealthy person, usually in a very short time period, is an onerous obligation. And if there are no good eggs-cuses for non-compliance with a disclosure order, the consequences can be severe. In 2018, a defendant in a US$4.6 billion fraud failed to give certain disclosure and was untruthful in the disclosure he had given. He was ordered to attend court in England for cross examination, rather than videolink from Switzerland, even though this would place him at an increased risk of extradition to Russia, Kazakhstan or Ukraine.

Egg-hiding is not a game for the faint-hearted; failure to comply with a disclosure order can be considered contempt of court and result in a prison sentence for individuals (the court has recently sentenced an individual to two years in prison for contempt of court).