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Catching fraudsters: little-known litigation tricks (Part 4) - Obtaining evidence from overseas banks

15 February 2022

In this series of articles, our litigation experts seek to review the ways in which fraudsters work and how to spot them, including case reviews. Read more.

Obtaining evidence from overseas banks 

Fraudsters often try to conceal the movement of stolen money through complex, international bank transfers.  Tracing this money is a key priority for victims, but what can victims do to obtain information from overseas banks and other entities, which either hold or held such money, and which are therefore innocently mixed up in wrongdoing?

The starting point is that, generally, the English Courts will not grant orders against people based overseas which forces them to provide information.  However, two recent cases have illustrated an increased willingness of the English Courts to do so.

The cases of Fetch.Ai v Persons Unknown and Ion Science v Persons Unknown concern alleged cryptocurrency frauds; however, they are relevant to any fraud claim.  In these two cases, the victims had allegedly been defrauded out of cryptocurrency assets and sought to trace them.  In order to do so, they needed information from a cryptocurrency exchange located in the Cayman Islands which held the accounts into which the assets were transferred.  

The English Court held that, in exceptional circumstances, it would permit victims to serve proceedings on banks and other entities outside of the jurisdiction in order to seek information from them.  In making their decision, the Court stated that cases of 'hot pursuit' could qualify as exceptional circumstances and that these were indeed such cases.

There are other methods of seeking information from overseas banks, which will feature later in this series of articles – however, this strategy, called a 'Bankers Trust' order, is particularly useful at the outset of urgent cases when you are hot on the heels of fraudsters.  

The English Court's readiness to assist victims in obtaining information from overseas banks is welcome. 

Contact Darren Kenny and Vadims Bovtramovics for more information. 

Other articles in this series:

Further Reading