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Forensic Accountants can investigate offshore trust assets

Member: Nifa

The ongoing and increasingly bitter divorce between aviation tycoon Clive Joy and his wife Nichola has highlighted how forensic accountants can put offshore trust assets under the microscope.  A court in London heard earlier this month that Clive Joy, whose fortune was once put at £69m, is now pleading poverty in defending a massive financial claim by the mother of his three children, Nichola.

However, Mrs Joy, says that he is claiming to be penniless as part of a “dishonest strategy” to reduce any financial award she may receive by hiding his fortune in an offshore trust.  The couple met in 2001 and married five years later but Mrs Joy petitioned for divorce in July 2011. A decree nisi was pronounced in June last year, but, shortly before this, she obtained a freezing order over her husband’s worldwide assets, said to now total £35m. 

According to her lawyers, the assets held in a trust in the British Virgin Islands were her husband’s to deal with as he wishes, whereas he argues that he cannot touch them.  However, what many people setting up trusts abroad do not realise is that forensic accountants can follow the paper trail wherever it leads in the world and see exactly what is allowed to be done with the assets.

That said, the process of finding assets or proving unreported income is often one of the most difficult assignments during the divorce process. However, being familiar with the ways individuals move assets into the hands of third parties or behind false documents and techniques is something that forensic accountants do on a regular basis.

Author: Roger Isaacs – 25 April 2014

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