Offshore? Yes. Off Limits? No. Asset Recovery in Paradise

When Somerset Maugham described the French Riviera as a “sunny place for shady people”, he could just as well been referring to public opinion of the offshore world after the release of the Panama Papers in 2015 and the Paradise Papers in November 2017. The narrative that followed these disclosures was, almost without exception, one where the sound of the sea gently lapping on the golden sands was interrupted only by the sound of ill-gotten gains being buried under a convenient palm tree, well away from prying eyes.

That description would, if true, offer little by way of encouragement to the asset recovery lawyer. It would be all too easy to subscribe to the common and long-established view that the offshore world is surrounded by an impenetrable wall, impervious to the most determined efforts of government and attorney alike to identify assets and enforce against them. As is so often the case, however, received wisdom and reality have only a fleeting acquaintance: that description long ago ceased to apply in the major offshore jurisdictions, and with the passage of time it recedes further into the distance. The current trend in legislative reform and judicial thinking, some examples of which are identified in this article, is firmly set against the abuse of offshore entities and has created a favourable climate not only for a beach holiday, but also in which to pursue assets.


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